The Senate decided in a 57-42 vote to expand federal legislation against hate crimes to include violence based on gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities. The original law, passed in 1968, only covers crimes involving race, color, religion, or national origin. The proposal, sponsored by Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.), drops a previous restriction that limited federal intervention to crimes committed during federally protected activities, such as attending school or voting. The bill also calls for training grants to help local authorities respond to hate crimes and federal assistance for the state and local investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. If passed in the House, the bill will make it easier to prosecute using the legislation and will provide crucial federal protection for victims of hate crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, or disability.