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Police Chief backs gay officer over homophobic mayor

The Police Chief of a small town in Ohio has gone public about the harassment of a gay police officer by the town’s mayor, warning that it could get the local government sued
Pomeray's courthouse
Photo: Leslie K. Dellovade

The Chief of Police of Pomeroy, a small town of less than 2,000 people on the banks of the Ohio River, has gone public about what he says is the homophobic harassment of one of his officers by the town’s mayor – warning that she may be breaching the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

Police Chief Mark E Proffitt accused Pomeroy Mayor Mary McAngus of a homophobic campaign against part time police officer Kyle Calendine who was hired by Pomeroy Police in September.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Proffitt has accused the mayor of using the word ‘queer’ and other slurs when referring to Calendine and that she had complained about Calendine’s partner visiting him at work when it was routine for other officers to be visited by their spouses.

‘She stated “I don’t like a queer working for the village, I might be old-fashioned, but I don’t like it,”’ Proffitt wrote in a six page sworn statement delivered to the town’s council.

Proffitt’s concerns were backed up by the town’s administrator, Paul Helman, who wrote a signed statement in which he detailed McAngus’ animosity towards Calendine’s partner.

‘Mary began telling me that we had a gay guy working in the police department and she had to run off Kyle’s boyfriend,’ Hellman wrote.

A signed statement by Calendine detailed how McAngus had opposed his promotion to a full time position with Pomeroy police.

‘Chief Proffitt and myself at this time knew it was not complaints ... [but] because of my sexual preferences,’ Calendine wrote.

Proffitt told the newspaper that he thought the mayor’s behaviour had been appalling.

‘He shouldn’t have to work in a hostile environment,’ Proffitt said.

The town’s council is yet to come to a decision on the matter but its president, Jackie Welker, told the newspaper that ‘we … certainly don’t agree with any discrimination.’

In January of 2011 Ohio Governor John Kasich banned discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in hiring state employees but private business owners in Ohio can still legally discriminate against LGBT employees.

Ohio banned same-sex marriage and civil unions in 2004 but polling conducted in 2012 showed a narrow majority now support marriage equality in the state.

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The town’s council is yet to come to a decision on the matter but its president, Jackie Welker, told the newspaper that ‘we … certainly don’t agree with any discrimination. Messuhr