Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay New Jersey Man Beaten To Death; Plea Bargains for His Killers May Reduce Charges Drastically

Scott M. Patronick (1963-2011): “I wanted to grow old together with him,” his lover said.

Phillipsburg, New Jersey – The brutal 2011 murder of out New Jersey gay man Scott Patronick made news again as his alleged killers rejected another round of plea bargains to reduce the penalty for killing a queer. Patronick, 47, a popular and well-regarded chef at the Hilltop Café, was attacked by two men who beat and kicked him to death on February 28, 2011.  Patronick suffered a fractured skull, and was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Security video cameras caught the assault as it occurred, and the suspects who callously left Patronick for dead, Joshua Dalrymple, 27, and Nicholas Yerian, 24, were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Patronick’s lover, Michael Joseph Bumbaca, 20, has no doubt that the murder was an anti-gay hate crime, though local police deny it.

Both Dalrymple and Yerian have bluffed the District Attorney twice now, most recently this very week rejecting a plea deal that would reduce the charges against them to aggravated manslaughter, according to the Express-Times: “The deals called for Dalrymple to spend 17 years in state prison and for Yerian to serve a 12-year prison sentence, with neither man being eligible for early release. Both would be ordered to pay restitution and would be barred from contacting the victim’s family.” Both men are shooting the dice for an even lower charge, counting on local amnesia and negativity about gay men to work in their favor.  Patronick’s family stated to the press that the penalties were not enough time to make up for the life of their son and brother. But no mention is made of Patronick’s partner, Michael Bumbaca.  They apparently had a problem with Patronick’s sexual orientation, and Bumbaca was an embarrassing reminder of who their loved one really was.  Bumbaca’s name was pointedly left out of the survivors in Scott’s online obituary.

In March 2011, Bumbaca gave an extensive interview to All Voices in which he said that his lover Scott straightforwardly admitted his sexual orientation, and was proud to be gay. When asked directly about the fatal attack, Bumbaca said, “It’s a hate crime.” He believes there may be a connection between Patronick’s murder and the testimony his lover gave in a 2006 gay bashing case of another victim, Bryan Wesselius.  Prosecutors failed to lock the assailant in that case away for any more than three years in state prison, and local residents were very aware of the role Patronick played in the trial. Everyone knew Patronick was plain-spoken and would not take an assault on gay people lightly. His restaurant manager, Scott R. Shafer, told All Voices that he would sorely miss the straightforward Patronick. “He was very opinionated, but he was just the nicest guy,” Schafer said. “If I was ever in a pinch, he’d be the first one to help. We won’t be able to replace him. I’ll need two people to replace him.” Bumbaca agreed about what a good guy he was. Scott enjoyed antiques, cooking, and his beagles. He and Patronick fell in love and had plans for the future. “I planned to grow old with him,” Bumbaca said.

Since a $770 paycheck was robbed from Patronick’s person by the suspects, prosecutors in Warren County want to leave any anti-gay bias out of the equation and call this a robbery gone bad. But broken-hearted Michael and the local LGBTQ community know differently. Gay murders don’t get much sympathy in Warren County, one of New Jersey’s mountain counties, located in the northwestern part of the state. Prosecutors like to plea things out, and move along. But people in Phillipsburg remember Scott.  In a moving remembrance on his obituary tribute page, a local woman wrote: “I did not know Scott very well at all. He was my waiter on Valentine’s Day and handed me a rose when my husband and I sat down. We saw an older woman dining by herself and told Scott that we would like to pay for her dinner… he smiled and said that it was his mother. When my husband went to the bathroom, Scott brought us the check and on the back, he wrote in beautiful handwriting that he took care of it and for us to have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. It was the nicest gesture of human kindness I’ve seen in a long time….”

August 3, 2012 Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, gay bashing, gay men, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, License to Bully bill, New Jersey | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Anti-Gay Violence with a Side of Waffle Fries: A Comment on Matthew Paul Turner’s “Five Reasons the Church Failed” on Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day

Dallas, Texas – By all reports, Mike Huckabee’s Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day was a success in “Big D” and around the nation.  Beaucoup Church folk stretched around the block to show some love to Dan Cathy’s corporate bottom line, and munch on some fast food chicken–the storied “Gospel Bird” gobbled at every church supper throughout the South.  Matthew Paul Turner, the popular Christian blogger (5,000+ subscribers) responded by writing a thoughtful post entitled “5 Reasons Why the Church Failed Yesterday.”  You can read the post in its entirety by clicking here.  In the aftermath of Wednesday’s effort to show Cathy, Huckabee, and CFA Corp some love by the conservative Christian Right, otherwise known as the Republican-Party-at-Prayer, Matthew Paul speaks to the head and the heart of right-of-center, salt-of-the-earth supporters of CFA, and seeks to prick their consciences (or at least raise their consciousness a bit). As a gay man and a Christian, an ordained Baptist minister and seminary professor, I must tell you, I was moved by much of what Matthew Paul had to say. His opening words for Reason Five were especially impressive to me. Matthew Paul writes:

“Yesterday’s hoopla surrounding CFA did nothing to prove that Christians don’t hate gay people. Oh I know that most Christians will say, ‘I don’t hate gay people!!’ But did supporting CFA Appreciation Day prove that?”  Matthew Paul then said, “Trust me, I understand that most people who ate chicken sandwiches at CFA yesterday did not do that as an act of hate. I get that. And that’s cool and all, but did the act of going out of your way to CFA prove that to be true? Do you think that the GLBTQ communities believe you? Would you, if you were gay, believe you?”

Yet, even as I read the good words on Matthew Paul’s blog, I still could not get the perpetual violence done the LGBTQ community in the name of God, the Bible, and the Church out of my mind. Nor could I remain silent about the specter of violence egged on by faith-based bigotry that lurks behind most every anti-gay hate crime in America. So, here is the short reflection on the “5 Reasons” post that I sent to Matthew Paul:

“Thought provoking and generative post, Matthew Paul. But the larger point to me is that the pogrom against LGBTQ people (many of them LGBTQ people of faith, too!) is going on all around the half-million or so ‘chicken Christians’ who are simply, idly standing by and letting it happen while they eat. 2011 saw the largest number of anti-gay murders in US history according the NCAVP (National  Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs) report. In Texas, in the space of barely six weeks, three lesbians of color have been violently attacked, and two of them are dead. The decimation of LGBTQ people is going on apace, with killers quoting the Bible and right wing religious leaders as they do it. And the good people (I really mean that, in regards to many CFA supporters) of the church are bystanders silently permitting the killings to go on, munching away. I am an ordained Baptist minister and a gay man. As I contemplate the complicity of the church in the slow rolling decimation of our fellow Americans, I believe I have a visceral understanding of the Gospel verse, ‘Jesus wept’ (John 11:35).” 

Christians in Austin, Texas, have called on all their Facebook and Twitter friends to show their faith on August 8 by making a $10 donation to a local food bank. Hold the chicken, and hold the waffle fries, please. That seems to me to be in keeping with what Jesus would have us do to show some real Godly love in action, so I will be joining my faith-filled Austin friends by sending my bucks along to the Cathedral of Hope food pantry in Dallas.  But I will also be pursuing a mission of conscience beyond that.

If you, gentle readers, believe you see an “agenda” in my response to CFA Appreciation Day, and in my addendum to Matthew Paul Turner’s “5 Reasons” post, then let me hasten to borrow the words of “our dear friend and prayer partner,” Dan Cathy of CFA, who famously said, “I plead guilty.”  I do have an agenda, an authentic gay agenda, the only so-called “gay agenda” I know anything about, one that has been influenced and shaped by the simple WWJD faith of my youth.  My agenda is that the faith-based bystanders who look idly on while women, men, and youths are bashed, bullied, and killed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender variance will finally awaken, and take responsibility for their merciless silence–to the end that all Jesus’ followers raise their voices and act until the senseless violence stops!

~ Stephen V. Sprinkle, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas,
and Theologian-in-Residence of Cathedral of Hope, Dallas, Texas

August 3, 2012 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Brite Divinity School, Bullying in schools, Cathedral of Hope, Chick-fil-a, gay bashing, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian teens, Lesbian women, LGBTQ, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, Texas, transgender persons, transphobia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


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