Mississippi Corrections Officer André D. Cooley Fired For Being Gay. Lawsuit Filed

André D. Cooley (pictured left) and The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Monday against The Forrest County Sherriff’s Department of Mississippi alleging that he was fired because his supervisors learned he was gay.  The lawsuit  requests unspecified damages from the Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Billy McGee, Chief of Corrections Charles Bolton and Staff Sgt. Donnell Brannon, a jail employee.

The complaint states that Cooley had told a few co-workers about his sexual orientation but was still not officially “out of the closet” on the job.  The incidents pertinent to the lawsuit began with a 911 call placed by Cooley on June 14, requesting help in a domestic disturbance.  A Hattiesburg Police Department report lists Cooley as the victim and describes his male companion as the assailant. The complaint states Bolton also responded to the call and ordered Cooley to report to his immediate supervisor before returning to work after learning of the two men’s relationship.

Sheriff Billy McGee said he stands by the decision to fire Cooley.  “He got in a fight with his boyfriend, and the police were called to his house for a domestic disturbance,” McGee said. “Those kinds of incidents don’t speak well for people in law enforcement.”  McGee added:  “I certainly don’t think the federal government should have the authority to determine what kind of character a person has to have to be representative of a law enforcement officer in Forrest County,” McGee said.

There is no federal or state law forbidding discrimination in Missisippi on grounds of sexual orientation.  (But there would have been if ENDA was passed)


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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