US firemen forced to join in gay parade win legal battle

Four firefighters from San Diego who were forced to participate in a ‘gay pride’ parade have won their legal battle.

The courts had previously ruled in favour of the firefighters and now the California Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by San Diego officials, putting an end to a legal battle lasting several years.

The firefighters were given direct orders by a fire chief to drive their fire engine during a gay pride parade in 2007, or risk being suspended and stripped of any chance of promotion.


The men recalled the verbal abuse and sexual gestures they endured from the crowd.

“You could not even look at the crowd without getting some type of sexual gesture,” stated the original complaint.

Fire Capt. John Ghiotto of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, who led the men during the lawsuit, said, had the men refused, they would have risked being penalised.


“As a supervisor I felt disgusted and embarrassed, that I had to subject my crew to this type of behavior.”

Charles LiMandri of the California branch of the National Organization for Marriage, who represented the firefighters, told that his clients were “delighted” with the outcome.

“It’s an important case because it shows that if Christians or people of faith generally are willing to stand up for their religious beliefs, and refuse to be bullied by secular agendas, that they do have rights that can and should be enforced in court,” said Mr LiMandri. “In this case those rights were upheld.”


Mr LiMandri said that it also “sends a strong message to people about what these gay pride parades are really like.”

In 2009 a Roman Catholic fireman from Glasgow won a similar legal battle against his bosses after he was punished for refusing to take part in a ‘gay pride’ march.

John Mitchell was one of nine firemen who were ordered against their will to take part in the event, Pride Scotia, in 2006.


Instead of bowing to pressure to take part in the rally, they handed out fire safety leaflets to members of the public on a nearby street.

The men, all from Glasgow’s Cowcaddens fire station, were then punished by their employers Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.

The nine firemen were given written warnings and were ordered to undergo diversity training.


But Mr Mitchell chose to fight and after failing to overturn the disciplinary findings at three internal appeals he took the matter to an Employment Tribunal.

Days before the hearing was due, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue admitted they had failed to take account of his religious beliefs.

Mr Mitchell was awarded damages and received an apology from his employers.

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