BY CANDY PARKER
Until last Tuesday, Crystal Moore was the police chief in Latta, S.C. But then the openly lesbian, 22-year veteran of the department was fired by Mayor Earl Bullard, sparking controversy in the small southern town.
Many, including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), believe Moore’s dismissal is a clear case of anti-LGBT discrimination.
Mayor Bullard asserts Moore was released as a result of seven reprimands she received. Critics of the firing note that the reprimands were suspicious in that all seven were received on one day and Moore had previously never received a reprimand. Further, it was noted that Bullard broke with protocol by not giving Moore a verbal or written warning for any wrongdoing, or discussing the matter with the council before taking action.
Adding to the doubts regarding the Mayor’s motive were comments caught on audio tape shortly before Moore’s firing in which Bullard shared the following views with Latta Town Councilman Jared Taylor:
“I would much rather have … and I will say this to anybody’s face … somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children.
Because that ain’t the damn way it’s supposed to be. You know … you got people out there — I’m telling you buddy — I don’t agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don’t say anything because that is the way they want to live, but I am not going to let my child be around.
I’m not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And I’m not going to see them do it with two men neither.
I’m not going to do it. Because that ain’t the way the world works.
Now, all these people showering down and saying ‘Oh it’s a different lifestyle they can have it.’ Okay, fine and dandy, but I don’t have to look at it and I don’t want my child around it.”
On Thursday, HRC issued a statement calling for Moore’s reinstatement as police chief.
“By all accounts, Chief Moore has served the people of Latta, S.C., well for over 20 years,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “On the surface this looks a like clear-cut case of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Without explicit federal or state employment protections, a decorated police chief is left to fend for herself.”
HRC said the case highlights the need for Congressional passage of ENDA. A statement on the organization’s website read, in part:
“There is no explicit federal law against sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, and lesbian, gay and bisexual people lack protection under the laws of 29 states, including South Carolina, and transgender people are not explicitly protected by the laws of 33 states, also including South Carolina. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee based on the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Public employees, such as Chief Moore, often have recourse under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, but ENDA is necessary to expand those protections to private employees and to place all employers on notice of their obligations to their employees.”