Tuesday, August 07, 2007

City to be sued after firemen were forced to march in a gay pride parade

I would think this was a pretty clear of sexual harassment and those who don't want to participate shouldn't have to do it.

A religious legal organization on Monday announced plans to sue the City of San Diego after firefighters there were allegedly forced to participate in the city's "Gay Pride" parade and subjected to "vile sexual taunts."

According to the Thomas More Law Center, four firefighters were forced to participate in the parade against their will and were "subjected to vile sexual taunts from homosexuals lining the parade route." The center has filed a request to sue the city - an administrative procedure - and expects to file a sexual harassment lawsuit in coming weeks.

"These firefighters dedicated their lives to save the lives of others," Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the law center, said in a statement. "They did not sign on to become unwilling props to a controversial political and social agenda."

According to the complaint filed with the city, the firemen of Engine 5 told their chief they did not want to appear in the parade but were told the morning of the parade that they were under orders to participate.

San Diego Fire Chief Tracy Jarman is an open lesbian who lives with her domestic partner. Jarman says the "gay pride" parade "is a fun event and all employees are encouraged to participate."
Update: Here's more on the situation:
San Diego fire chief Tracy Jarman, an open lesbian, said she apologized to the men, according to a statement. Jarman said any kind of sexual harassment is "unacceptable, and is never tolerated" in the department.

"I am deeply concerned and troubled by the allegations that have been made. I take them seriously," Jarman said in a statement.

Jarman said she will order the city’s Equal Employment Investigative Office to review the complaint.

The complaint is the first filed against her department regarding participation in a parade or festival, Jarman said.

Sterling Stires, a senior associate with the Thomas More Law Center, said there was a previous complaint issued by a captain in a different station about being forced to participate in the parade.

One of the four firefighters defended his decision to file the complaint, saying it is a sexual harassment issue.

“This EEO complaint isn’t about homosexuality or gay pride. This has to do with people in the workplace being threatened, sexually harassed, and forced to participate in a parade that isn’t like other parades and the behavior that is demonstrated by the public and some of its participants are what are found to be offensive,” according Hewitt’s statement in the complaint.