John M. Becker

Utah Cop Who Wouldn't Work Pride Sues for Defamation

Filed By John M. Becker | June 10, 2014 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: LGBT Pride, police, religious freedom, religious liberty, Salt Lake City, special rights, Utah, Utah Pride

police-officer-from-behind.jpgA Utah police officer who was put on administrative leave after his department said he refused their assignment to work at Salt Lake City's pride parade is denying the allegations and suing for defamation of character.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

A Salt Lake City police officer says the department defamed him and violated his rights when he was put on leave after a conflict over his assignment at Sunday's Utah Pride Parade. "He feels that the same protections that afford individuals to participate in a parade like we had yesterday, are the very constitutional protections that were not afforded to him," Bret Rawson, the officer's attorney, said Monday.

The police department and Rawson have not identified the officer, who made national news last week when the department told The Salt Lake Tribune he had been put on leave for refusing to work an assignment at the annual gay pride parade.

Rawson said the officer did not refuse his assignment -- to join other motorcycle officers in choreographed maneuvers at the beginning of the parade -- but instead asked his commanders for a "less conspicuous" role at the parade, such as traffic enforcement or security.

"The officer simply felt that the level of participation required in the event could be perceived as endorsing or advocating in favor of the LGBTQ community, a position which made him uncomfortable, given his personal and religious beliefs," Rawson wrote.

"He never refused to do his job," Rawson added in an interview Monday. "He specified that if he was required to do [the motorcycle assignment], he would do that. So he was very surprised that he was put on administrative leave."

A spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City Police Department told the Tribune that she was unable to comment on the story because they'd received "notice of pending litigation."


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