A candlelight vigil in Greenville was held to remember an openly gay man who friends say was a victim of a hate crime, and to push for legislation in South Carolina to prevent such crimes.From Upstate equality:
Friends of 20-year-old Sean Kennedy held the vigil Sunday evening. Kennedy died last month after being punched outside of Brews on Pelham Road.
Organizers wanted the vigil to draw attention to hate crime bills before the state Legislature and U.S. Congress. The bills would provide protection for people based on their gender, sexual orientation or disability.
The Rev. Donna Stroud, pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of the Upstate, said, "It's not a matter of giving special rights -- it's a matter of equal rights and protection under the law so that people won't have to be afraid of being who they are."
Stephen Andrew Moller, 18, is charged with murder in connection with Kennedy's death.
Greenville County deputies said that Moller made a comment about Kennedy's sexual orientation before punching him. His death is being investigated as a hate crime, but there is no law on the book that currently deals with the prosecution of hate crimes.
Sean's mother, Elke Kennedy, said, "Somebody hated Sean for being gay. Somebody punched Sean and ultimately killed him. That's not what we should do. Jesus said you should love and we should not judge."
Sean was born on April 8, 1987 in Charleston, SC. As the youngest of three children, it was obvious from the beginning that he held the potential to be something great. Even as a child, he had an irresistible smile to go with the personality big enough to light up any room. He was never judging, and accepted from all walks of life. Sean was a simple person who left footprints in the hearts of everyone he touched, just one of his many gifts.Also see: Roxanne Walker.
One of Sean's last gifts was the "gift of life". By donating his vital organs, Sean helped save the lives of six people..