Another reason we need ENDA: Mississippi sheriff’s department fires man for being gay

Posted on 14 Dec 2010 at 10:29am

Andre D. Cooley, a former corrections officer for juvenile detainees with the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department in Mississippi, has filed suit against his former employers for violating his civil rights by firing him after his supervisors found out he was gay.

Forrest County, Mississippi Sheriff Billy McGee

And according to The Hattiesburg American, the Sheriff Billy McGee’s response to Cooley’s allegations is: “So what?” As the sheriff’s department points out, there is no federal law, nor does Mississippi have a state law, that protects people from anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, so they haven’t done anything wrong.

The sheriff’s department doesn’t even have to try and pretend they didn’t fire Cooley because he is gay (although McGee does say Cooley’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with his being fired).

On a side note, Texas doesn’t have a state law prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination in employment matters, either. And with Republicans now holding a solid two-thirds majority in the Texas House of Representatives — thanks to Allan Ritter’s decision to switch from Democrat to Republican — it’s a pretty safe bet that the Texas Legislature won’t pass a state version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has languished for so long in Congress, even though a recent poll commissioned by Equality Texas indicates that 75 percent of Texans support a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing and employment.

And given the Republicans’ recent takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives, it’s not likely the federal ENDA will see the light of day for at least two years.

(And to all of you who would criticize me for making such a blanket condemnation of Republicans as being anti-gay: Yes, I know there are moderate Republicans who support LGBT rights. But let’s be realistic: The GOP overall has not ever and does not now support LGBT equality. They don’t, as a group, introduce bills promoting LGBT equality, and the VAST majority — even thouse who have said they are in favor of LGBT equality — won’t vote in favor of such measure when someone else introduces them (“don’t ask, don’t tell,” anyone?). And of course, the Texas State GOP Platform even calls for homosexuality to be recriminalized, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has already said sodomy laws violate the federal Constitution.)

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