Firefighters forced to participate in gay pride parade win legal battle

San Diego Fire Dept CNA US Catholic News 1 31 11

Members of the San Diego Fire Department have won a sexual harassment lawsuit against the city for being forced to participate in a local gay pride parade in 2007.

On Jan. 26, the California Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the city and instead upheld a lower court ruling in favor of the firefighters.

The move ends a several-year legal legal battle for four firefighters who lodged a complaint against San Diego for being forced to participate in the city’s gay pride parade in 2007. Although the firefighters objected numerous times to taking part in the event, the fire department disregarded their complaints and ordered them to dress in full uniform and drive their fire truck in the parade.

According to legal group Alliance Defense Fund, the four claimed they were sexually harassed through obscene gestures and cat calls at the event, which also featured displays of graphic images and behavior.

On Oct. 14, 2010, 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 the firefighters should not have been mandated to take part in the parade.

“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 Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Joseph Infranco after the October ruling.

Charles S. LiMandri, the West Coast regional director of the Thomas More Law Center and an attorney with Alliance Defense Fund, noted in October that government “employees should never be forced to participate in events or acts that violate their sincerely held beliefs.”

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