Latta Residents Take Away Power From Mayor After He Fires Lesbian Police Chief

| by Amanda Schallert

The residents of a South Carolina town passed a referendum Tuesday that decreases the power of their mayor after he fired their lesbian police chief without a clear cause.

Some residents of Latta, South Carolina have said they think that mayor Earl Bullard discriminated against police chief Crystal Moore for being lesbian when he fired her in April. The new referendum altered the governing power structure in the town, giving the Latta council more authority than the mayor. Bullard took office in the 1,400-person town in December, according to the Huffington Post.

The town’s ballots still have to be certified this Friday. When the council takes over, members plan to reinstate Moore to her job.

"I'm ecstatic," Moore said. "Words can't describe."

Bullard gave Moore seven reprimands in April and accused her of failing to maintain order. Moore said that Bullard’s reprimands were the first she had been given, though she had worked for the police department for 20 years. Around the same time that Bullard fired Moore, a councilmember leaked a recorded phone call where Bullard used homophobic speech and said he would rather leave his children with an alcoholic than with a person with a “questionable” lifestyle.

Bullard has said he did not fire Moore because she is lesbian. Last week, a Latta grievance committee made no recommendation for further action on the case.

After Moore was fired, hundreds of Latta residents protested against the decision and some individuals started an online fundraising page to help her while she was unemployed.

On her Facebook page, Moore asked residents to support her and vote on the referendum Tuesday.

"I am ready to get back to work for our town,” she said on Facebook. “I have not done anything wrong to be fired. I have been loyal, dedicated, legal and fair. I care and love our town."

Source: Huffington Post, Charleston City Paper