.- Four firefighters in California who lodged a complaint against San Diego for being forced to participate in the city’s gay pride parade in 2007, won a court victory on Oct. 14. On Thursday, less than a week after hearing an oral argument, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District upheld a jury verdict ruling that firefighters from the San Diego Fire Department (SDFD) should not have been mandated to take part in the city’s 2007 “Gay Pride Parade.”
According to the Alliance Defense Fund, the four from the SDFD claim they were sexually harassed through obscene gestures and cat calls at the event, which also featured displays of graphic images and behavior. Although the firefighters objected numerous times to taking part in the parade, the SDFD had disregarded their complaints.
“We hope this ruling will end the city’s attempts to defend its act of compelling people to participate in sexually-charged events against their moral and personal convictions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco, co-counsel in the case.
“If not, we are prepared to continue to defend the firefighters all the way to the California Supreme Court.”
The court stated in its Oct. 14 ruling for the case of Ghiotto v. City of San Diego “that the record contains substantial evidence to support a finding that the sexual harassment experienced by the Firefighters during the Pride Parade was severe and pervasive, thus altering the conditions of employment and creating a hostile or abusive work environment.”
Charles S. LiMandri, the West Coast regional director of the Thomas More Law Center and an attorney with ADF, added that government “employees should never be forced to participate in events or acts that violate their sincerely held beliefs. The jury saw this, and the court wisely upheld that ruling.”