Moments ago, the Senate voted to expand the hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victims. The vote retained the 60 votes necessary to prevent a filibuster, and it will pass as an attachment to the defense authorization bill.
Opponents of the measure immediately predicted it “ultimately would fail either in negotiations with the House or by presidential veto. ‘The president is not going to agree to this social legislation on the defense authorization bill’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. ‘This bill will get vetoed.’” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “Our troops are on the front lines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere fighting against evil and hate. We owe it to them to uphold those same principles here at home.”
UPDATE: Human Rights Campaign’s Joe Solmonese heralds the passage:
For over a decade our community has worked tirelessly to ensure protections to combat violence motivated by hate and today we are the closest we have ever been to seeing that become a reality. Congress has taken an historic step forward and moved our country closer to the realization that all Americans, including the GLBT community, are part of the fabric of our nation. The new leadership in Congress fully understands that for too long our community has been terrorized by hate violence. And today, the US Senate has sent a clear message to every corner of our country that we will no longer turn a blind eye to anti-gay violence in America.
UPDATE II: Sen. Larry Craig voted against the hate crimes bill. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was not present to vote. Full Roll Call here.