Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Action Alert from PFLAG

Sean William Kennedy was an 18 year old in South Carolina who was leaving a bar one night when Stephen Andrew Moller jumped out of a car, screamed an "anti-gay epithet" at him and killed him by punching him. When Sean's head hit the ground, his injuries were fatal. According to the Wikipedia entry,
"In October of 2007, The Greenville County Solicitors Office announced that Moller's murder charge was going to be reduced to involuntary manslaughter, since there was no malicious intent by the accused.

"In November of 2007, Stephen Andrew Moller was released to home detention upon paying a $25,000 bond. He is required to stay with his mother until his trial. The charge of murder was reduced to manslaughter not only because there was no conscious premeditated desire to kill Kennedy, but also because there is no middle step in South Carolina law between murder and manslaughter. Unable to secure a conviction for murder, the trial lawyers opted for manslaughter in order to get the violent activity onto Moller's record. The sentence carries a 0-5 years prison term, and it is likely that Moller will be released for time served."

What PFLAG is hoping to do is help local authorities prosecute hate crimes like this by passing national hate crime legislation. It's probably true that the attacker didn't mean to kill Sean. After all, he was just having a little fun, driving around town punching people he believed to be faggots in the face. A local sport? A way to impress the chicks? A way to prove your manhood?

So, a gay kid is dead and the killer goes free. Sound familiar?

I'm not one for passing around petitions, but PFLAG has set one up to encourage the Senate to pass a bill that will help local law enforcement in cases like this, where the gap between outright murder and manslaughter is too wide. Go sign it and send the link to your friends.

Meanwhile, if you're gay and in South Carolina, a killer will be released soon. And there's no legal protection for you unless he really "means" to kill ya.
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