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Fired lesbian police chief in South Carolina gets her job back

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON S.C. (Reuters) - A South Carolina police chief who said the mayor fired her because she is gay returned to work on Monday after being reinstated by the town council.

The controversy surrounding the dismissal of Crystal Moore, 42, in April rallied the town of Latta, population 1,400, and drew the interest of national gay rights groups who argued that her case highlighted the need to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Moore, a 20-year veteran of the police force and chief for two years, said her job record was clean - until Mayor Earl Bullard issued seven reprimands in one day and fired her. After Moore's firing, a recording surfaced in which the mayor was heard speaking about her "questionable" lifestyle.

"I'm not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware," Bullard said on the recording, which was posted on a local television station's website.

Bullard said he could not discuss why he let Moore go, but that it was not because she is a lesbian.

Last Tuesday, the town voted to strip Bullard of his powers to hire and fire and return the town to a strong-council, weak-mayor form of government.

The following day, the mayor revealed he had hired a new police chief, who signed a two-year contract and was to start on July 1. But on Friday night, the council voted to curtail the mayor's powers and had a judge swear in Moore as chief.

"I'm ecstatic," Moore said. "You just gotta fight and trust in the Lord."

(The story removes word 'council' in paragraph six to say the town voted)

(Editing by David Adams and Gunna Dickson)

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