After his bosses allegedly branded him a bigot and the Salt Lake City Police Department allegedly hounded him out of his job, Eric Moutsos has finally broken his silence to explain his motivations for not wanting to perform motorcycle tricks at a gay pride parade last summer. He also explains his version of what really happened.
Last summer, an announcement by the Salt Lake City police that a then-unknown police officer declined to provide protective services for a gay parade in Salt Lake City made global news.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports, “A Salt Lake City Police Officer has been placed on leave for refusing an assignment at this weekend’s Gay Pride Parade. … He had been given a traffic control and public safety assignment.”
Breaking his silence in a statement released this week, now eight months later, Moutsos essentially said it was all a lie.
Moutsos insists he never refused an assignment to do traffic control and public safety. In fact, that is what he asked to do for the parade. What he did not want was to participate in the parade by doing motorcycle choreography with his fellow Salt Lake City motorcycle squad. He said he did not feel right about it and that it violated his conscience to appear supportive of the parade’s political message.
When his superiors told him he could not swap, Moutsos relented and said he would do the motorcycle choreography. By then, it was too late. He says, “The police department suspended me, took away my gun and badge, and told me that I would be investigated for discrimination.”
And then the department hung him out to dry, he asserts. “Two days later, a police spokesperson gave interviews to the media, and the news reported that I refused to work a security and traffic assignment at the parade. I was immediately branded a bigot,” he says.
Moutsos states that the charge that he’s a bigot is specious: “In my duties as a police officer, I have been called upon to protect events I disagree with, including several LGBT rallies.” In fact, Moutsos was praised for his sensitive handling of two men protest-kissing at a Mormon church two years ago.
Moutsos says he is speaking up now because the Utah legislature is considering a bill that is supposed to safeguard both religious liberty and LGBTs from employment and housing discrimination. He says, “I do support legislation that provides fairness for all. No one should be afraid to be who they are in the employment. And no one should have to choose between their job and their conscience.”
Moutsos’s former boss is angry that he has come forward now. Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank told local media that the mere fact that Moutsos disagreed with the message of the parade was problem enough.
Burbank insists that Moutsos is a bigot and that bigotry has no place in his department. “I will not tolerate bias, bigotry or hatred in the organization,” states Burbank, adding that expressing his personal religious views to someone else in the department disqualifies Moutsos from being a police officer.
In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News, Moutsos says he has the quiet support of other officers in a heavily Mormon force, but they have largely been cowed into silence. In fact, he says the supervisor pressed to take away Moutsos’s gun and badge last June actually sobbed when he did it.
Moutsos describes a department under the thumb of aggressive political correctness. Officers in the department have taken down their Facebook pages because others monitor them. Moutsos says a woman in the department confronted him about his mention of God on his Facebook page. She said it was offensive.
On the one hand, Moutsos says officers are told their religious beliefs are considered personal and therefore forbidden in the department, but LGBT officers are free to espouse their LGBT beliefs openly and with impunity. He says, “It is a terrible double standard.”
Moutsos has an attorney and is mulling a lawsuit, but he is reluctant. Though he believes he was discriminated against for his religious beliefs, he fears such a suit “could really affect [his] life for the next several years.” He shares, though, the incident occupies his thoughts every day and that he has not been able to sleep.
More than anything, Moutsos is calling for unity. He says, “I love people. I‘ll protect you. I will take a bullet for you, but I do not advocate certain things in people’s lives. Just like 99% of the world does not agree with my faith, and that’s okay.” Moutsos is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon).
Read his statement:
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse.