The mayor of Latta, a small South Carolina town, sparked outrage and triggered protests after firing longtime police Chief Crystal Moore. Moore is a lesbian and believes that her firing was the result of the mayor's homophobia; he maintained that she was removed from the force after receiving seven reprimands. Too bad he was caught on tape spewing some anti-gay vitriol. Ooops.
According to the Huffington Post, Latta Mayor Earl Bullard fired Moore on Tuesday after she received seven reprimands, alleging that she'd questioned authority, failed to keep order and failed to report to her supervisor, among other charges. These seven — which she received all in one day — were the first reprimands Moore had ever received in her 23 years on the job, which is a tad suspicious. Bullard also broke protocol but not giving Moore any verbal or written warning before firing her, even though Moore had heard rumors of his plans and confronted him head-on about them in February. Hmmm.
On Wednesday, dozens of Latta residents picketed outside of the town hall and called for Moore to be reinstated. On Thursday, the city council voted 6 to 1 to strip some of Bullard's power, presumably because he is an irrational homophobe. The evidence of said irrational homophobia is pretty compelling: one council member says that Bullard told him before he was sworn in that "Crystal would not have a job." Oh, and there's also this phone call another council member recorded, in which Mayor Bullard rails against the gay "lifestyle" (a favorite term of bigots everywhere):
"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.' Ok, fine and dandy, but I don't have to look at it and I don't want my child around it."
As the Human Rights Campaign points out, there is currently no explicit federal law prohibiting sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination. Furthermore, "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." This is why we need the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Without it, malignant idiots like Bullard feel free to discriminate against respected members of their community whose romantic/sexual lives make them uncomfortable.
Image via WBTW-TV.