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Rep. Tammy Baldwin hails Congressional vote to expand federal hate crimes

Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, says she's happy that Congress approved an expansion of the federal hate crimes law.

Criminal suspects already face enhanced penalties for choosing their victims on the basis of race or ethnicity.

Now, sexual orientation will be added to that list. The measure was added to a major defense policy bill.

Many Republicans voted against the package because of the hate crimes provision. But Baldwin, one of three openly gay members of Congress, says hate crimes often terrorize groups with the same characteristics as the victims.

She calls it "double victimization," and says the hate crime laws are special tools to deal with it.

The bill allows the federal government to intervene and add hate crime enhancers if state justice officials fail to do so.