Court Reaffirms: City Can't Force Firefighters to Attend Gay Pride Parade
By Kathleen Gilbert
SAN DIEGO, California, October 18, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A California appellate court has quickly upheld a jury decision last year that forbade San Diego from forcing firefighters to participate in a gay pride parade.
The case involved four San Diego firefighters who had been forced to drive a firetruck in the city's celebration of homosexuality, where the men were subjected to catcalls and obscene gestures, and surrounded by simulated sex acts and other explicit imagery.
In the days leading up to the event, the city had ignored the firefighter's numerous objections to taking part.
Captain John Ghiotto and firefighters Jason Hewitt, Alex Kane and Chad Allison won their complaint in February 2009, and were awarded a total of $34,000 as well as legal fees.
Although the city changed its policy after the firefighters filed suit against the city with the Superior Court for the County of San Diego in August 2007, the firefighters maintain that the city has stated it is allowed to revert to forced participation if volunteers are not available.
After the city appealed the ruling, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District, Division One, concluded Thursday “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.”
Capt. Ghiotto said Friday that he was pleased with the ruling. “The amount of money the city has spent on this is amazing — I’ll bet it’s in the millions by now. This whole thing could have been solved in a day. They knew two or three days before that we didn’t want to be in that parade," he told media.
A spokeswoman for the San Diego attorney's office said the city is pondering whether to appeal yet again.
The decision came less than a week after hearing oral arguments. Attorneys affiliated with the Thomas More Law Center and the Alliance Defense Fund supported the firefighters in the case.
“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,” said Charles S. LiMandri, the West Coast regional director of the Thomas More Law Center. “The jury’s verdict recognized the firefighters’ right to opt out of activities that they consider morally offensive and that subject them to harassment.”
“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, who is co-counsel in the case. “If not, we are prepared to continue to defend the firefighters all the way to the California Supreme Court.” '
Ofcourse, the hyppocrites never bring up these things since the media makes these topics invisible.