A landmark measure to extend protection under the 1983 Massachusetts hate crimes law to gays, lesbians and the disabled cleared a major hurdle yesterday when it was resoundingly endorsed by the Senate.
The bill, which has been five years in the making, would also stiffen penalties for hate crimes that cause personal injury. With the House having passed a similar measure and Gov. William F. Weld promising his support, the measure is virtually certain to become law.
"I think it is probably the single most important piece of legislation since the gay rights bill," James Gilbert, cochairman of the Governor's Task Force on Hate Crimes, said yesterday. "It was a tough battle. But the overwhelming vote today really showed that people have gotten it. They get it. It is wrong, they said it is wrong."
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