What I don’t understand about the new hate crimes law

From CNN:

The Senate passed groundbreaking legislation Thursday that would make it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Call me silly, but I thought it was already against the law to “assault an individual.” Does it matter really if it’s a local, state, or federal law?

I know a bunch of conservatives are up in arms over this one. It’s supposed to let sex offenders off the hook, etc., but I haven’t seen any proof of that. All I see is a pansy-a$$ congress pandering to a special interest group by offering legislation with the word “homosexual” in it. And let’s make it clear, I don’t care what your sexual orientation might be, but I DON’T CONSIDER IT A MATTER OF PUBLIC INFORMATION and would rather you keep it to yourself.

Our country is full of useless legislation. Guess we’ll just add this to the list.