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

Gay Tennessee Teens Face Potential “License to Bully” Law

TN students protesting anti-gay legislation (Tennessean image)

Nashville, Tennessee – A “License to Bully” gay students bill will be on the Tennessee Legislature docket this winter–and is already facing criticism from progressives. The bill would protect anti-gay students when they frame their homophobic feelings in religious language. WSMV4  reports that conservative lawmakers are presenting the bill, SB 760/HB 1153,  making outspoken anti-gay statements in Tennessee schools legal “if that is what religious beliefs call for.”  Like opponents of human rights around the nation, Volunteer State conservatives such as FACT (Family Action Council of Tennessee) are framing the bill as a matter of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  Fox News 17 quotes progressive high school student Emmanuelle Loyer in opposition to the “License to Bully” bill.  Loyer said anti-gay students will take advantage of the protections the bill offers: “They can say cruel things they want to say under that protection.”  Loyer went on to say that supporters of the bill are dangerously misinformed about realities in today’s public schools. “I don’t think they realize how cruel high school students can be,” she said.

The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) opposes the bill and its intent. Jonathan Cole of the TEP said, “It’s time for Tennesseans to stop using children as pawns for social, religious and political agendas. We need to be focusing on ways to ensure that Tennessee students receive an education free from bullying, harassment and intimidation.”  In a statement to the press, the TEP said, “The religious liberty and free speech rights of students are already protected by the U.S. Constitution. This legislation would give special protections to students of a particular religious point of view. If made into law, FACT  would give students a ‘license to bully’ that allows them to hide their irrational biases behind an extreme religious belief.” 

Already under assault from the “Don’t Say Gay” (HB0229/SB0049) bill last year, LGBTQ students and their allies in public schools are organizing to fight for vulnerable youth and teachers who are targeted for harassment, slurs, and harm. The Tennessean warned that harassment of gay youth already has already proved lethal, as in the case of Jacob Rogers, Cheatham County Central High senior who took his own life in response to years of relentless bullying based on his perceived sexual orientation.

Against the claims of FACT and right-wing lawmakers, the Tennessee Equality Project quotes a recent study in the Journal Pediatrics showing “an association between an objective measure of the social environment and suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. The social environment appears to confer risk for suicide attempts over and above individual-level risk factors. These results have important implications for the development of policies and interventions to reduce sexual orientation–related disparities in suicide attempts.”

Conservatives ignore these documented connections and protest against using the stories of gay teen suicides in the debate on the “License to Bully” bill. At a time when Tennessee lawmakers should be offering more protections for LGBTQ students, they are poised to take Tennessee in the direction of shielding homophobic students and their right wing supporters.

January 4, 2012 Posted by | Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullycide, Bullying in schools, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ, License to Bully bill, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Tennessee | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gay Tennessee Teens Face Potential “License to Bully” Law


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