God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Firefighters Fight Flagrant Flaming

San Diego Firefighters Claim Harassment During Gay Pride Parade
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Four firefighters are pressing sexual-harassment claims against the city's fire department after they were taunted while driving a fire engine in a gay pride parade last month, an attorney said Monday.

The men claim their battalion chief ordered them to ride in the July 21 parade through San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood, according to their attorney, Stephen Stirling. The firefighters followed the order out of concern they would otherwise be suspended or punished.

During the parade, the firefighters said, bystanders taunted them with sexually explicit comments and colleagues called to tease them for participating in the event.

"I was forced into a situation that would compromise what I hold true and what I believe in," engineer Jason Hewitt said in a statement.

The four contend the department failed to protect them from sexual harassment and didn't immediately act to correct the situation, Stirling said.
That's right; they were ordered to participate. Having been to gay pride parades in Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., I totally believe the firemen were harassed. Trust me, the pride parades might be clean, neat, and well organized - but refined and dignified they most often aren't.

The firefighters weren’t just being asked to attend the rally, they were being required to MARCH in it. What if their boss ordered them to participate in a political rally? What if they were ordered to go to be in a Christmas parade? What if your employer wanted you to march in a “Fundamentalist Christian Pride Parade” or attend a “White Pride” rally? Any firefighter that wants to march in the Gay Pride parade should be allowed too, but Gay Pride parades are overtly sexual and overtly political, and no one uncomfortable (or yes, even homophobic) should be forced to attend or march in one.

There's a lively debate on this subject going on at both Gay Orbit and The Malcontent. I've also made it the subject of this week's poll.


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