On February 2, 2006, 18-year-old Jacob Robida walked into Puzzles Lounge, a popular New Bedford gay bar, using a fake ID.

After two drinks, he pulled out a hatchet and struck a patron. He was quickly tackled to the ground and disarmed of the hatchet before he drew a firearm, shooting and injuring three more patrons. He then fled the bar and fled the Commonwealth.

Joined by a female companion, his violent expedition came to an end when a traffic stop by Arkansas Police officer Jim Sell resulted in Robida fatally shooting Sell, attempting to flee, and engaging in a gunfight with Arkansas State Police before he turned his gun on his friend and then himself.

This vicious hate crime and the further violence that followed reverberated not just through the SouthCoast, but the entire nation. The LGBTQ community was in the throes of the fight for marriage equality, and Massachusetts was home to the then-recent landmark case Goodridge v. Dept of Health, a 2003 SJC decision that made the Commonwealth the first state in the Union to legalize same-sex marriage.

Today, thanks to steadfast activism and a string of landmark Supreme Court decisions, same-sex marriage is the law of the land, and LGBTQ worker rights are protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

However, in spite of what has been accomplished in the 15 years following the attack, there is still much left to do in the fight for a fully inclusive society.

Recently, I was joined by Andrew Pollock, President of the South Coast LGBTQ+ Network, to discuss these topics, the work that the network does, and some exciting upcoming events to look out for. You can listen to the full conversation here:

Marcus Ferro is the host of The Marcus Ferro Show airing Saturdays on 1420 WBSM from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Contact him at marcusferrolaw@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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