.- A California jury found on Tuesday that four firefighters, who were ordered by their superiors to participate in the cityâs âgay prideâ parade were sexually harassed, and awarded them monetary damages from the city.
The case dates back to July 2007 when four San Diego firefighters were informed by their superiors that they would be participating in San Diegoâs annual âGay Prideâ parade. Though the four men protested, they were ordered to dress up in full uniform and ride on the fire engine along the parade route.
During the event, explains a statement from the Thomas More Law Center, the firefighters were subjected to âvile sexual taunts and gestures.â
Some of the comments hurled at the firefighters along the parade route included: âyou can put out my fire; youâre making me hot; give me mouth-to-mouth.â When the firefighters did not respond, some people in the crowd turned hostile and started yelling obscenities at them.
Other bystanders directed lewd acts at the firefighters, such as exposing their genitals, grabbing their crotch, and blowing kisses.
Shortly after the parade, the four firefighters filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego. The first trial ended in a hung jury. However, the jurors of the retrial, which ended yesterday, found in favor of the four firefighters âon all nine questions in the verdict form,â reports the Thomas More Law Center.
The four men were awarded a combined total of $34,300 for emotional distress. In addition, Fire Chief Tracy Jarman has stated that participation in future parades will be voluntary.
Charles S. LiMandri, West Coast Director of the Thomas More Law Center, reacted to the ruling, saying, âThis is a victory for all people who are willing to stand up for what is right when it comes to defending our basic freedoms of speech and religion. No one should be forced to be subjected to sexual harassment on the job â not even male heterosexual firefighters who are being harassed by homosexual men at a Gay Pride Parade. All city officials should now think twice before ever making such a wrongheaded decision to violate their employeesâ rights in such an improper manner again.â
Co-counsel in the case, Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Joe Infranco added in a statement, âMany people may mistakenly think the âgay prideâ parade is merely a âfunâ event. They never would have imagined the crude sexual harassment these firefighters were forced to endure.â
Deputy City Attorney Don Shanahan stated that the city will appeal the verdict.