[UPDATE: This story is being updated regularly with information from the US military. Please check for new updates at the end of the story.]
Two young Marines are sitting in a military brig this morning, accused of beating a gay man in Savannah, Georgia, so badly he had a bruised brain and two seizures. And while details on the case are just emerging, it has huge implications for the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," as well as the justice system in Georgia, which lacks hate-crime laws and charged the men with a simple misdemeanor.
The service members, Keil Joseph Cronauer and Charles Stanzel, were barhopping in Savannah, just over the border from the base where they're stationed, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina (of The Great Santini fame.) According to the Savannah Morning News, one of the Marines grew convinced that 26-year-old Kieran Daly, who came out six months ago, winked at him.
In police parlance, an altercation ensued. Daly was punched in the back of the head so hard, he had to be taken to the hospital.
The Marines, who were caught on foot after fleeing the scene, say they were "being harassed by a gay man and wanted to get away from him," but eyewitnesses and Daly himself disputed that account: