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This woman wants to be the first female, openly gay sheriff in South Carolina

Crystal Moore was previously fired as chief of police in a small town, but she got her job back and became a leader in the fight against LGBT employment discrimination.
Imagen por Rainier Ehrhardt/AP

Crystal Moore wants to make South Carolina history twice in one fell swoop during the election this November.

Moore is currently the police chief in Latta, a town of about 1,400 near the state's border with North Carolina, but she's running for the position of sheriff in Dillon County. If she wins, she'll be the state's first female sheriff — and the first openly gay one too.

Moore is no stranger to adversity. Two years ago, she lost her job as Latta's police chief after Mayor Earl Bullard fired her for leading a "questionable" lifestyle.


The people of Latta, a conservative town that once voted overwhelmingly in favor of preserving the state's ban on gay marriage, rallied around Moore, saying her record of service mattered more than her sexual orientation.

Related: The feds and North Carolina are suing each other over the state's anti-LGBT law

Bullard denied that he fired Moore because she was gay, claiming instead that she displayed "sheer insubordination." Support for Moore grew after Latta councilman Jarrett Taylor began secretly recording his conversations with the mayor.

"I would much rather have… somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children," Bullard said to Taylor in one taped conversation. "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."

Bullard later doubled down on his comments in an interview with the Associated Press. "I don't like the homosexual ways portrayed in front of children," Bullard said. "You can't explain to a five-year-old why another child has two mommies or two daddies."

Moore was reinstated as police chief in June 2014 after Latta held a referendum to restructure its government, allowing the Town Council to reverse Bullard's actions.

When she returned to work, residents honked their car horns and gave her thumbs up as she rode around in her police vehicle, according to CBS News. Later that year, after a Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, Moore married her longtime partner.

Related: An openly gay man will lead the US Army for the first time in history

She told Charleston City Paper that the fight for her job had turned her into an accidental activist. "It's kind of like I've been adopted as the poster child," Moore said.

South Carolina, like 28 other states, does not have laws that protect LGBT individuals against employment discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Last year, after campaigning by Moore, Latta became the smallest municipality in the state to pass an LGBT anti-discrimination law. She has since testified in front of state legislators in support of similar statewide anti-discrimination bills.

Follow Tess Owen on Twitter: @misstessowen