SC Equality and the Human Rights Campaign issued statements over the firing of Police Chief Crystal Moore by Latta mayor Earl Bullard. It is alleged that Bullard fired Moore in part because she is gay.
From the Rob Groce of the Charleston Democrat Examiner:
Latta, S.C., Police Chief Crystal Moore was released by Mayor Earl Bullard on April 15, and for at least one of two questionable reasons. First, she questioned a recent hire of the new mayor; second, Moore is openly gay, and to Bullard’s open discontent.
Moore recently investigated the town’s new Parks and Recreation Dept. director Vontray Sellers, hired by Bullard in February, and after local news reported that same month that Sellers was driving a town vehicle despite having a suspended driver’s license.
In her research, Moore learned that recent charges against 24-year-old Sellers, whose job includes direct interaction with children, also included assault of a correction facility employee. Bullard didn’t conduct a background check on Sellers, Moore also learned. The mayor, who first took office in January, refused to answer questions from both media and the public about the hire. On Tuesday, Bullard fired Moore after issuing seven reprimands all pertaining to her investigation.
However, the incident which raises questions about Moore's sexual orientation leading to her firing is a taped phone conversation with Bullard in which he said some brutal things about the lgbt community (click here for an audio of his comments):
"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 2 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 2 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.' Ok, fine and dandy, but I don't have to look at it and I don't want my child around it."
SC Equality and HRC said Bullard's comments proves the need for state and national anti-discrimination laws for the lgbt community.
SC Equality Executive Director Ryan Wilson said the following in that organization's statement:
Many people in South Carolina are surprised to learn that our laws do not protect gay and transgender South Carolinians from unfair treatment and discrimination at work. This situation unfolding in Latta and others like it give us clear examples of why we need to update our state’s Human Affairs law as is proposed by H.4025 – The Workplace Fairness Act – so that all people are treated fairly. No hardworking South Carolinian, including workers who are gay or transgender, should have to live in fear that they can be fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.“
HRC said the following:
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. ENDA, which was first introduced in 1994, passed the U.S. Senate in 2013 with a strong bipartisan vote, but has yet to see action in the House of Representatives.
Several residents of Latta protested Moore's firing. Meanwhile, several council members said that Bullard's firing of Moore did not follow correct protocol and some of the reprimands are questionable.
At press time, the council is meeting to talk about reinstating Moore.