“I applaud the United States Senate’s passage of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This victory for civil rights in the United States sends a message that our nation will not tolerate acts of violence against anyone based solely on a person’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. And it broadens the federal definition of a hate crime to recognize such violence regardless of when or where it is carried out.

“Today we are able to say all Americans have a right to equal protection under the law and the right to be free from persecution. Federal officials will now be able to prosecute a hate crime as a federal crime, ensuring that even if state laws do not protect the LGBT community, the federal government will.

“Sadly, as we have been reminded in the last few weeks, hate crimes continue to tear apart communities. We must continue to speak out, to prosecute those who commit these crimes and to educate people that hate in any form is not acceptable.

“I look forward to seeing President Obama sign this bill into law, with the families of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. by his side.”