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Michigan Corrections Department to allow officer to wear his uniform at pride parade

The Michigan Department of Corrections has reversed its earlier decision and will allow Officer James Sims to wear his uniform while attending the gay pride events on Saturday in Grand Rapids.

Sims was denied permission to wear his uniform in the Michigan Pride March June 11. Officials in the department said the decision was not based on the fact it was a gay event, but rather, top officials felt the department’s honor guard was better suited to represent the MDOC in the march.

In issuing his determination email allowing Sims to wear his uniform on Saturday, Deputy Director Dennis Straub wrote:

This event, held in Grand Rapids, differs from the June 11th event Officer Sims requested to participate in. That event included a parade, which is more suited for our Department’s Honor Guard. My decision in that instance was irrespective of it being an LGBT event.

Straub continued:

The Michigan Gay Officers Action League (MI-GOAL) will have a booth at this Saturday’s event. The main function is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the law enforcement, public safety, corrections and criminal justice professions, including within the Department. MDOC employee Cole Bouck will also be in attendance, but in his outside capacity as President of MI-GOAL.

Consistent with the my and the Department’s commitment to diversity and other similar decisions this department has made, I am approving 4.0 hours of administrative leave for RUO Sims to attend this event in uniform.

In an email announcing the decision, R Cole Bouck, Michigan Gay Officers Action League (MI-GOAL) praised the decision.

Working with MI-GOAL in making good on his reassurance, Deputy Straub today approved Officer Sims to attend a different LGBT event this coming weekend. MI-GOAL will host an information and materials booth at this weekend’s West Michigan Pride, in Grand Rapids. Officer Sims will be in uniform at our booth, proudly representing Corrections professionals, and those others in law enforcement, public safety and criminal justice!

Bouck has said in previous interviews that MI-GOAL will request the MDOC honor guard for future Michigan Pride March events.

Sims declined any further comment, noting that he thought Bouck “said it best.”

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