SAN DIEGO — Four San Diego firefighters are filing legal claims against the City of San Diego after their superiors forced them to participate in the July 21 San Diego Gay Pride Parade, in full uniform and on their city fire truck.
In the past, firefighters who attended the parade generally did so on a volunteer basis. When the four firefighters protested, their superiors told them they must ride in the parade or face disciplinary action, reported the California Catholic Daily.
A press release from the Thomas More Law Center states that, while on parade, the firefighters were “subjected to vile sexual taunts from homosexuals lining the parade route.”
Some of the comments hurled at the firefighters along the parade route included: you can put out my fire; you’re making me hot; give me mouth-to-mouth. When the firefighters did not respond, some 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.
“What happened to these dedicated public servants was inexcusable,” said Charles LiMandri of the Thomas More Law Center. The law center is representing the firefighters in their legal claims.
“The City should have known from past experience the kind of offensive activities that go on at this event. This was a clear case of sexual harassment in violation of state and federal law as well as the City’s own code of conduct,” said LiMandri in the press release.
San Diego Fire Chief Tracy Jarman has been quoted as saying that the parade is a “fun event and all employees are encouraged to participate.”
San Diego’s Republican mayor, Jerry Sanders, appointed Jarman fire chief in June 2006. According to 365Gay.com, Jarman is “one of only a handful of openly lesbian fire chiefs in the country.”