Today the House of Representatives passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 by a bipartisan vote of 249 to 175. The legislation protects individuals from violent crimes motivated by victims' sexual orientation, disability status, gender or gender identity. The legislation still needs to be approved by the Senate.PFAW President Michael B. Keegan said, "I applaud the House for passing this legislation. Hate crimes remain all too common in this county, and it's important that the federal government take strong stand to ensure that no one is subjected to the threat of violence because of who they are. I'm especially pleased that this bill contains strong First Amendment protections to ensure that no one's right to free expression will ever be affected by this law. All Americans have a right to live in safety, and all Americans have a right to speak, preach, and worship freely."