UPDATE -- Officer Andrew Johnson will be allowed to march in uniform in this Sunday's Pride Parade, reports KTLA. The State Board of Corrections made this announcement shortly after Johnson's press conference with lawyer Gloria Allred.
PREVIOUSLY -- Officer Andrew Johnson confirmed today through his lawyer that he will file a lawsuit against the State of California for discrimination.
Officer Johnson was joined by Gloria Allred in a press conference this morning. Johnson, who works as a corrections officer at a women's prison in Chino, is also a member of the Gay Peace Officers Association. When he received a letter from the LA County Sheriff's Office in May about officers marching in the LA Pride Parade, Johnson wanted to do the same.
He filed a request with the State of California and his warden for permission to march in uniform but was denied by both -- in writing. From lalate news: "Allred told news that the letters are 'shocking and disturbing… that the State would consider it a discredit' to the Department of Corrections 'to participate in the parade in uniform.' "
Both are asking for an investigation into the State's alleged discrimination against gays. They also want permission for Johnson to march in uniform with other law enforcement officers at the LA Pride Parade this weekend.
The LA Pride Parade has released a statement commending Johnson's courage and inviting all members of the Gay Peace Officers Association to come march in the parade this Sunday. Rodney Scott, board president of the Christopher Street West non-profit that produces the parade, compared Johnson to closeted gay military members: "Like our 2011 Community Grand Marshal, LGBT Service members who are still not allowed to serve openly in the U.S. Armed Forces, Officer Johnson was told that being in the parade in uniform would bring discredit to the department."
Gay and lesbian law enforcement officers participate yearly in the LA Pride Parade, both by marching and providing security for the event. Officers began marching in uniform in 1993, when five members of the LAPD and LASD joined in. Since then, participation from uniformed officers has grown tremendously. In 2007, LA County Sheriff Lee Baca and former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton marched for the first time, according to Christopher Street West.