WASHINGTON (BP)–Officials of Traverse City, Mich., are investigating the actions of a local police officer who led a protest against a city decision to post rainbow-colored stickers symbolizing homosexual advocacy on municipal vehicles, CNSNews.com reported Jan. 11.
The Traverse City Human Rights Commission has requested an investigation of comments by David Leach, a patrol officer who has been with the department for almost 30 years.
City Manager Richard Lewis said he would comply with the nine-member commission’s request to see if the officer violated anti-discrimination policy by criticizing the sticker.
“We don’t know that anything wrong has been done, but we’re going to look at this,” Lewis said Jan. 10.
The call for an investigation and the city’s decision to comply has reopened a controversy that Traverse City hoped it had put behind it after Lewis ordered on Jan. 2 that the stickers be removed from public vehicles.
Lewis acted after the city attorney ruled that posting a bumper sticker on a public vehicle featuring the flag of a particular organization or movement would open up the city to demands by other groups to allow their symbols to be displayed on city vehicles.
The latest call by the Human Rights Commission to investigate Leach has outraged family groups, who are rallying anew to the officer’s defense.
“This so-called Human Rights Commission clearly has a political agenda of its own, which is to advance the homosexual agenda, said Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, “and they are obviously engaging in an attempt at retribution against a city employee who had the courage to publicly witness his religious convictions.”
Glenn is calling on the mayor and the city commission to rein in the HRC, which he said supports, among other issues, the passage of a city law “granting special status to individuals based solely on their choice to engage in homosexual behavior.”
The HRC also favors “the establishment of additional criminal penalties against individuals who attack people who engage in homosexual behavior — penalties that would not apply to individuals who engage in homosexual behavior and attack others,” Glenn said.
The saga began Dec. 19 when the city decided to spend $2,000 to purchase 10,000 rainbow-colored stickers, which would be placed on all city-owned vehicles, including police cars. The stickers featured a rainbow background symbolizing gay pride and the words: “We Are Traverse City.”
Leach, a patrolman and evidence technician who joined the Traverse City Police Department in 1971, became the first city employee to publicly protest the order. Known to his fellow officers as a devout Christian, Leach participated in a discussion of the stickers on a local radio station, and told reporters he was “opposed to the lifestyle of the homosexual.”
The HRC said it did not ask that Leach be punished, but that Police Chief Ralph Soffredine determine whether Leach violated department or city anti-discrimination policies.
Glenn vowed family groups would protest if any action is taken against Leach, who “did not check his constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of religion and freedom of speech at the door when he took the oath 30 years ago to serve the people of Traverse City as a police officer.”
Morahan is a senior staff writer with CNSnews.com. Used by permission.