Update: Just hours after Johnson and Gloria Allred announced their slam-dunk of a lawsuit, Corrections officials have reversed their decision and issued a sheepish, please-don't-sue-the-shit-out-of-us apology. (After the jump.)
We at the Weekly usually beef with the California Department of Corrections on more budget-related issues like the rich, powerful prison-guard union's ability to twist the state Legislature to its will and preserve bloated benefit packages in a time of fiscal crisis.
But on a more basic human-rights note, prison guard Andrew Johnson reveals today that the department has a raging case of homophobia, to boot.
Gloria Allred to the rescue!
Still hot on the case of Schwarzenegger's child-star mistress, L.A. octo-attorney Allred employed another tentacle to fight for Johnson's gay rights today, holding one of her notorious sexually charged press conferences in her office along Wilshire Boulevard. Per usual, TMZ streamed it live:
Johnson asked his superiors at the Department of Corrections for permission to march in uniform on Sunday, but was told he couldn't do it because of a law that prohibits officers from marching in uniform if it would bring “discredit” to the department.
Johnson's lawyer, Gloria Allred, said at a news conference that other departments — including the LAPD, L.A. County Sheriff's Department and the CHP — allow officers to march in uniform in the parade.
Allred says the Department of Corrections allows officers to march in uniform in other parades, including the Christmas parade and the Carrot Festival.
Carrot Festival? Talk about a discredit.
A department press officer tells us the CDCR is busy with more pressing matters today — namely, its response to the U.S. Supreme Court on how it will reduce California's prison population — but that the spokeswoman in charge of Johnson's allegations will give us a call back if she gets a chance.
No matter how the department spins it, though, this doesn't look good: Even the macho gay-bashers in the U.S. Army have upgraded to a state of tolerance with the recent repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.” And if you so much as mouth “faggot” in the NBA, you can expect a $100,000 fine/a good month's stay in the douche doghouse of public opinion.
For Johnson's employers, who already have a brutish stigma, to imply that an openly gay guard in uniform would tarnish their (far from upstanding) reputation, is a nasty blight on California's own M.O. for civil progress.
Props to one out-and-proud officer from the California Institution for Women in Chino for defending his human right to rock a green jumpsuit this Sunday. Maybe now he'll get some R.E.S.P.E.C.T. to go with those bomb-ass benefits.
Update: KTLA reports that the Department of Corrections, busy as it may have been with that Supreme Court nonsense, wasted no time in covering its ass today. Officials issued the following apology in the immediate aftermath of Johnson and Allred's highly publicized conference:
In reversing its decision, the department said in a statement that the, “CDCR did not intend to offend any segment of the population with its recent refusal to allow a correctional officer from participating in a Gay Pride Parade while wearing the department’s official uniform.”
According to the statement, “The decision was made solely on an interpretation of an admittedly ambiguous section of the Department Operation Manual (DOM) as it relates to unauthorized use of the CDCR uniform.”
Looks like we have a new star for the procession in WeHo on Sunday — Johnson's jumpsuit for justice is going to out-gay the flaming-est drag queen.
Originally posted at 12:45 p.m.