The Washington Post has a good synopsis of the passage (finally!) of the Matthew Shepherd bill.
I found this particularly appealing:
Although the House of Representatives passed the law 249 to 175 in a mostly party-line vote in April, the Senate added the legislation to the defense bill instead of passing it separately. The move angered Republicans, most of whom voted against the defense bill because of the hate crimes of both provisions in Congress.
“The Republican machine, they don’t have the megaphone of the Obama administration, but maybe if they could have more effectively got their message out,” said Mathew D. Staver, president of the Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal group.
But Rick Scarborough, head of the Texas-based conservative group Vision America, which has long opposed the hate crimes legislation, said there may be little Republicans can do to stop further gay rights legislation.
“I think they [bills that would expand gay rights] are morally wrong, and I’ll continue to do my best to enter the debate,” he said. “But it’s a new day. These were the promises of Barack Obama, and he’s living up to them.”