COLUMBIA (AP) — Columbia officials have overridden a decision by interim police chief Ruben Santiago to order two officers to march in the South Carolina Gay Pride Parade even though they did not want to participate.
Santiago had ordered a lieutenant and sergeant to join eight other officers in last Saturday’s parade even though they cited religious beliefs in their opposition.
On the day of the parade, City Manager Teresa Wilson and her assistant met with Santiago and reached an agreement to make participation in the parade voluntary since there were then enough officers to march.
“In the end it was decided to make it voluntary, and I couldn’t hold them responsible for any disciplinary action,” Santiago said Thursday.
Wilson says the department’s participation in the parade was an important signal of the city’s commitment to inclusiveness
She said once she found out that enough volunteers had come forward, “I felt it was fine to make it voluntary.”