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It's great to be back with you here at DailyKos! In the past, I've usually blogged to ask you to help respond to an urgent crisis. Well today I'm proud to tell you about an important, hard-fought victory that we won last night.

Just before midnight Thursday, the Senate finally passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as an amendment to the defense authorization bill. This legislation is long overdue, and now we're finally on the verge of getting it signed into law.

On Wednesday, I spoke out on the Senate floor about the senseless death of Matthew Shepard, a tragedy that showed us we have a long way to go before we can truly say in this country there is equal justice for all. More than 10 years ago, two men offered Matthew, a gay man, a ride in their car. Subsequently, he was robbed. He was pistol whipped. He was tortured. He was tied to a fence in a remote rural area. And he was left to die.

This was a brutal, vicious hate crime -- and we've got to do everything in our power to make sure nothing like it ever happens again.

For nearly 10 years, our right-wing opponents have been trying to block us from passing hate crimes legislation at every turn. Again last night, they filibustered, throwing out excuse after excuse, but finally we got the 60 votes we needed to pass it.

We know our right-wing opponents are going to launch a last-ditch effort to try to stop us, and they're not going to give up easily. So we can't stop fighting until the bill is sent to President Obama's desk for his signature. Please stand with me and show your support, right now -- so I can share your support with my colleagues on Capitol Hill.

Click here to sign my petition in support of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act -- and share your thoughts with me -- so I can show my colleagues the strong grassroots support for this critical measure!

Passing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act is so important. This legislation adds gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability as protected categories under our hate crimes laws and strengthens the ability of federal, state, and local authorities to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

We've tried to pass hate crimes legislation for years. In the past, there's always been an excuse: We do not have the time, or it is not relevant to the bill being debated.

Well, the loss Matthew Shepard's family carries in their hearts will never disappear. But one thing we can do to ease their burden -- and make sure no other families have to go through this -- is enact this bill into law.

Now we all need to speak out and add our voices to make sure we make this Hate Crimes legislation the law of the land.

Click here to sign my petition in support of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act -- and share your thoughts with me -- so I can show my colleagues the strong grassroots support for this critical measure!

Thank you so much for giving me the honor and privilege to serve in the U.S. Senate -- so I can fight for you and all Americans on such important issues like this.

Originally posted to Barbara Boxer on Fri Jul 17, 2009 at 01:38 PM PDT.

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