Most Americans believe it is illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation. South Carolina is one of 29 states where it is legal to fire someone for being gay
Latta, South Carolina (population 1200) is 103 miles northeast of Columbia, South Carolina.
Last week, Mayor Earl Bullard fired Latta’s Chief of Police Crystal Moore a 20 year veteran with the police department. Moore has said she believes she was fired because she is an openly gay woman.
Tuesday night, Moore’s supporters wanted to know why ?
“This woman has been a veteran of the department and a pillar of this community for years,” said Kevin Drawhorn, a Latta resident and supporter of Moore.
The Mayor Says he Didn’t fire the Police Chief Because she is Gay
In an interview with WPDE NewsChannel 15 Mayor Earl Bullard said personnel policy won’t allow him to say why Moore was let go, but says it had nothing to do with her being homosexual.
“Right now, it’s a hot issue. It’s getting media attention across the nation because of what they say I did. And they say I fired her because of her sexuality and nothing could be farther from the truth. If they did some real investigating they would find out that that has nothing to do with this. Nothing at all,” explained Bullard.
Bullard added he can talk about what led to Moore’s firing if she gives the town permission.
“If Chief Crystal Moore would sign a release granting us, meaning the town, the authority to release the reasons for her dismissal, then and only then can I talk about the specifics of it. Now, if there’s nothing to hide then she’ll sign that release and I can talk with you openly about the reasoning.”
He said he would have never fired Moore if it wasn’t justified or in his authority as Mayor of Latta.
“I have never fired an employee that it wasn’t justified. And that it wasn’t in the best interest of those I served. I try to treat everybody the same.”
Why She was fired…
The allegations are:
1. Running background checks without properly signed authorization
2. Failure to report to supervisor about problems in other departments
3. Using office/position to seek revenge against another for personal affront
4. Questioning authority of supervisor
5. Questioning authority of mayor to look at job applications for potential employees
6. Failure to maintain order, contributing to disorder at council meetings
7. Contacting news media to help bring about disorder and disruption to the town of Latta
Chief Moore had recently discovered during an investigation that the town’s parks and recreations director Vontray Sellers had operated a city vehicle with a suspended license. During the probe, Moore found that Bullard failed to conduct a proper background check on Sellers before giving him the job. Some council members have alleged that Bullard’s intention to fire Moore was formed even before he took office.
Latta Town Council says Bullard had no right to terminate Moore without going through council first
Council members Lutherine Taylor and Jarett Taylor said they both went to visit Bullard the very day he fired Moore in effort to learn why he let her go.
Taylor said Bullard isn’t willing to hear what council has to say on the matter.
“There is no reason to talk with him. He made it evident in writing that he is the mayor. We (council) have no authority,” said Taylor.
Latta’s current form of government keeps town council members from voting to re-instate Moore as the town’s police chief.
Council voted last week to hold a referendum June 24 asking voters to decide if the form of government should be changed to a council-run system.
Bullard added if voters approve the change of government, the town would have to spend money to hire a town administrator to oversee the day to day operations of Latta.
The Latta Town Council voted unanimously in two key measures Tuesday night in support of fired Police Chief Crystal Moore.
The council voted 6-0 on an “emergency ordinance” that blocks the Mayor from hiring anyone to fill the police chief job for about two months.
Last week, the council voted to allow a town-wide referendum in 60 days on whether to change the basic governing structure of the town from “mayor-strong” to “council-strong” – which would strip some powers from the Mayor.
Council members say that if the town becomes council-strong-mayor-weak within 60 days they will vote to re-hire Chief Moore.
Bullard says Moore’s firing has split the community, but he believes Latta will reunite when the whole truth comes to light.
“Bullard said, “This community has been resilient. We have had controversy in the past. We have had undeserved attention in the past. But any
community, when the truth comes out, the whole truth comes out, yes we can rebound from it. Certainly we can.”
ENDA ignited ? The firing of Crystal Moore could reignite the debate over the proposed “Employment Non-Discrimination Act”
Under current law, employers can’t discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, or genetic information.
A national survey found, 75% of the country believes its already illegal to discriminated against LGBT Americans in the workforce.
House Speaker John Boehner ,has refused to allow a simple vote on ENDA. Asked why, the Ohio Republican said “I am opposed to discrimination of any kind in the workplace or anyplace else, but I think this legislation … is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits. People are already protected in the workplace.”
ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) would extend protections to include sexual orientation and sexual identity.
‘I can’t believe that we still have no equal rights. That’s the biggest issue. I’ve been harassed, intimidated. This is the first time it’s been this public. I’d tried living a quiet decent life and do what I’m supposed to.
Former Police Chief Crystal Moore
Read: Mayor Bullard’s past statements about gays (what he REALLY thinks)