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Gay Officer Andrew Johnson Can March in Uniform

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 09, 2011 6:43 AM

Want to wear your uniform at gay pride? Gay corrections officer Andrew Johnson now can, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

Johnson had filed a request to wear his uniform during the West Hollywood gay pride parade. He intended to march with other gay law enforcement officials, reports NBC Los Angeles. Johnson is a member of the Gay Peace Officers Association.

His request was denied. Johnson then filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections, alleging sexual discrimination.

Apparently, the threat of a lawsuit, spearheaded by famed attorney Gloria Allred, was enough for the Department of Corrections to change their mind.

The CDCR originally made its decision based on a section of their Department Operation Manual (DOM) relating to when officers can wear their uniform, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The section in question prohibits employees from wearing their uniforms in situations which could "discredit" the CDCR, such as "drinking alcohol in public, entering a tavern, gambling hall, or nightclub (except if necessary in the performance of assigned duties), participating in political activities...and engaging in any other action or behavior which reasonable persons would deem inappropriate for a uniformed peace officer..."

The department also issued a statement where it reiterated that it did not mean to offend anybody with its original decision barring Johnson from wearing his uniform, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Is the department's action surprising? Not really. Many defendants in lawsuits decide to settle the case with the plaintiff in some way or another before the case gets to trial. After all, a trial can bring lots of bad publicity against the CDCR, especially one that involves workplace sexual orientation discrimination.

So, all it took for gay corrections officer Andrew Johnson to be able to wear his uniform at gay pride was the hiring of an attorney, a press conference, and a filed lawsuit. The gay pride event will be held this Sunday, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

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