WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stepped up his call for the passage of federal hate crimes legislation Thursday, arguing that the federal government needs to address a rising tide of criminal activity fueled by bias and bigotry.
Holder made his remarks during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The bill would allow the Justice Department to provide assistance to state and local authorities in the prosecution of hate crimes while also expanding federal protection against hate crimes to cover disability, gender and sexual orientation.
"Hate crimes victimize not only individuals but entire communities," Holder said.
"Perpetrators of hate crimes seek to deny the humanity that we all share, regardless of the color of our skin, the God to whom we pray or the person who we choose to love. ...," he said. "The time is now to provide justice to victims of bias-motivated violence and to redouble our efforts to protect our communities from violence based on bigotry and prejudice."
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