The Latta, South Carolina, police chief allegedly fired for being gay has been reinstated by her town’s council.
Crystal Moore was fired from her job after almost twenty years in the service by new mayor Earl Bullard. According to Moore and many local supporters, the mayor’s decision was due to her sexual orientation.
Moore told press that her job record had been clean until Bullard fired her after issuing seven reprimands in a single day. Afterward, a recording was made public of Bullard objecting to Moore’s “questionable” lifestyle.
In the recording, which was uploaded to a local TV station’s website, Bullard says, “I’m not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware.”
Under state law, Bullard had the power to fire Moore due to being a “strong mayor, weak council” town. He denied firing her because she is gay, but even if her orientation was the reason, Bullard’s actions would not be criminal in South Carolina, where state discrimination policies have yet to include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected classes. LGBT activists have held up the case as an example of why federal laws banning homophobia-based discrimination are needed.
Unlike many similar cases of firing based on sexual orientation or gender identity, Bullard’s actions have faced local and national criticism as people rush to Moore’s defense. On Tuesday, April 22, a town meeting was held at the Ellis Performing Arts Center at Latta High School, where many town members rallied in her support.
Moore told the Huffington Post that she is both surprised and overwhelmed to have so much support in Latta, a town with a population of just 1,400. “People call us the Bible Belt in the South, and to have so much support is awesome. I’m going to tell you, it’s amazing. The good Lord has really blessed me with a lot of family and friends,” she said.
On June 25, Bullard announced that a new police chief had already been signed to a two-year contract that would begin on July 1, but after the town held a referendum, on June 27 Latta changed its current law to a council-run system, stripping Bullard of his authority to hire and fire, and converted to “strong council, weak mayor” policies. The council then had Moore once again sworn in as police chief by a judge.
According to the Huffington Post, Moore said after her reinstatement, “I’m ecstatic. You just gotta fight and trust in the Lord.”