Paul Gordon Collier
The small town of Latta, South Carolina voted in 2006 by a convincing majority for a state amendment banning gay marriage. The town prides itself in being a bastion for ‘conservative’, ‘traditional’ values. Yet that did not stop this small town from rebelling against an action by their government to fire their beloved Police Chief, Crystal Moore, for her ‘questionable lifestyle.’
Mayor Earl Bullard fired Moore in April of this year, he claims, because of her insubordination, not due to her gay lifestyle. Whatever the claims of the mayor, the people of Latta were not buying it. Immediately after the firing, the town galvanized to rally around Moore, who thought her law enforcement career was over. She thought wrong.
The town council moved against the Mayor, passing a referendum to strip him of his powers. The referendum vote passed by a 69 percent majority. While nothing about this town would indicate there has been a sudden shift in their socially conservative views, it is clear that the town decided firing a leader in their community because that leader had a lifestyle which others might not approve of is not the kind of town they wanted to be.
The definition of tolerance in Websters is “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” The town of Latta demonstrated the freedom and liberty standard of tolerance, standing up for the rights of a community leader who’s lifestyle choices many who voted to support her might not approve of.
The Christian community within the town, while still upholding the standard of ‘traditional marriage’, supported Moore because, in so doing, they demonstrated the freedom and liberty standards reflected in scriptures.