By a vote of 12-7, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on July 26 in favor of the Local Law Enforcement Act of 2001. The legislation, introduced in March by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), would expand the scope of federal assistance in the prosecution of state and local hate crimes. While current laws define hate crimes as those based on race or religion, the new legislation also covers victims targeted because of their gender, disability or sexual orientation. Jan Schneiderman of the National Council of Jewish Women commented, “The Local Law Enforcement Act commits the nation anew to the national ideal of equal protection under the law.”
An attempt by Orin Hatch to replace the LLEA with legislation that excludes anti-gay crime from the definition of a hate crime was defeated 12-7.