Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Andrew Cooley: I Admire You

I just read this exciting story in The Advocate. Andrew Cooley was serving as deputy to the sheriff in Forrest County, Mississippi and was fired because of sexual orientation. Cooley, knowing that the basis of his termination was unjust and down right wrong, decided to fight back. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Cooley would embark on a legal battle with the hope of reclaiming his dignity and his job. And fortunately, because Cooley and the ACLU were on the side of justice and fairness, the Sheriff's department has decided to settle outside of court and reinstate Andrew in his role as deputy.

According to the article, "Cooley's was the first case of its kind in the state -wherein an employee sued a public body for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation." As a result of Cooley's action, the Forrest County Sheriff's department will be the first in the state to include a sexual orientation clause in its non-discriminatory policy.

The evolution of this case is very interesting. Cooley basically outed himself to the department when he called 911 last year. A victim of domestic violence from his then partner, he thought it would be safe to summon the police. The chief officer that responded to this initial 911 call told Cooley not to return to work until he spoke with his direct supervisor. He was fired the next day.

I just want to say kudos to Andrew for not sitting back and allowing this department to get away with discrminative behavior. It would have been very easy to sit back and do nothing. In fact many would have probably blamed themselves and thought it was okay to be terminated after being outed. Well it is not okay to be fired simply because you're gay. And everyone should feel safe going to the police when in jeopardy and there should be no fear of retaliation or undue recourse. Andrew Cooley, you are a role model for all of the LGBT community. I'm hoping we see more people standing up for themselves like you.

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