By 232-192, the House of Representatives voted in a non-binding resolution to instruct the House-Senate Defense Authorization Conference Committee to include language expanding the Hate Crimes Act in the joint defense authorization legislation. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) had successfully added the Hate Crimes provision that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, gender and disability to the Senate version of the Defense Authorization Act. Currently, the Hate Crimes Act covers only religious affiliation, national origin, and race and limits coverage to a federal nexus such as voting. In addition to including gender, sexual orientation, and disability, the new language expands coverage for all hate crimes. The House resolution, sponsored by Representative John Conyers (D-MI), passed yesterday, September 13, after speeches by Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Sheila Jackson Lee, Julia Carson, Nita Lowey, John Lewis and Barney Frank in support of the Hate Crimes provision. Among the 232 House members who supported the Conyers resolution were 190 Democrats, 41 Republicans, and 1 Independent. President Clinton spoke at a press conference at the time of the vote urging passage of the Hate Crimes Act and reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Visit www.hrc.org to Take Action on this issue!