“I knew I had to take a stand for God’s word.”
That’s how 19-year-old ex-cop Jacob Kersey described his decision last month to ignore entreaties from his superiors to take down a Facebook post characterizing same-sex marriage as illegitimate.
And even after an investigation “did not find sufficient evidence to establish a violation of any policies” and therefore led to no punishment, Kersey resigned, saying he felt betrayed by the department.
“God designed marriage. Marriage refers to Christ and the church. That’s why there is no such thing as homosexual marriage,” Kersey wrote in the post on January 2.
Kersey, a rookie with the Port Wentworth Police Department, in Port Wentworth, Georgia, near Savannah, was placed on paid administrative leave two days later. He resigned January 18.
“I didn’t feel confident that if I were to go out there on the streets and enforce the law, that my command staff was going to have my back,” Kersey told Fox News. “It’s just too dangerous of a job to do that. And I did not think it wise to go back to work under those circumstances.”
A day after Kersey posted the offending message, he claims he was contacted by his direct superior and told a town resident had complained anonymously.
Kersey was asked to remove the post. He refused. The supervisor warned him that failure to comply with the request could result in termination. He again declined to take the post down.
A follow-up call from another superior explained the department could be held liable in a “use of force” circumstance with a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Kersey was again asked to remove the post and again refused, according to The Daily Signal, a news site run by the right-wing Heritage Foundation.
A third call came with an order to turn in his cruiser and report to a meeting at police headquarters.
Kersey said his superiors made one last attempt to convince him the post should be removed. He was told he was “wise beyond my years, an old soul, and that they brag on me all the time,” Kersey claimed, “but that I couldn’t post things like that.”
The post was the “same thing as saying the N-word and ‘F*** all those homosexuals,’” Kersey said he was told, and his free speech “was limited” due to his position as a police officer.
Kersey disagreed. He was placed on administrative leave.
In a letter to Kersey explaining the department’s decision, Maj. Lee Sherrod said an investigation “did not find sufficient evidence to establish a violation of any policies,” but posts by Kersey regarding “protected classes,” including the LGBTQ+ community, “could raise reasonable concerns regarding your objectivity and the performance of your job duties when a member or suspected member of the LGBTQ+ community is involved.”
In the letter, Sherrod also reminded Kersey that same-sex marriage is the law of the land.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges established the right to same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015. The Respect for Marriage Act codified federal recognition in 2022.
“My command staff has equated me with the most horrific racists. They’re telling me they’re going to fire me if I don’t abide by this new policy, if I express my Christian beliefs again,” Kersey complained in one of several media appearances following his resignation. “It’s not fair to the citizens of Port Wentworth to go back and try to respond to calls when my command staff doesn’t have my back and we’re playing this game.”
Kersey claimed fellow officers are behind him but haven’t spoken out publicly, another indication that the First Amendment is under assault, he said.
“The Lord has surrounded me with a lot of support,” Kersey said. “So I’m grateful for that.”