Washington - Today, as part of the Department of Defense funding authorization bill, the U.S. Senate gave final passage to an amendment that aims to bring justice in more hate crime cases. The provision, mirroring the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's Matthew Shepard Act, allows federal law enforcement to become involved in more of these cases, whereas currently, it is does not have jurisdiction to prosecute a large number of them.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is a co-sponsor of the hate crimes legislation, and he released the following statement:

"When someone is harassed, assaulted or killed simply because of the type of person they are, it's a crime against an entire community and our nation's values," said Menendez. "This is why hate crimes need special attention from law enforcement. If anyone thinks these unconscionable crimes are a relic of the past, they have to look no further than the murders of Luis Ramirez in Pennsylvania, Matthew Shepard in Wyoming or Stephen Tyrone Johns at the Holocaust Museum. No one cracks down on hate crimes with more focus or authority than federal law enforcement, which is why it's so important that this legislation gives them an expanded role. Our late colleague Ted Kennedy knew the power of civil rights and justice, and I am proud that we continue to carry on his legacy."