Burning Question: Can Firefighters Be Forced to Honor Homosexual Behavior?

Inside the Issues with Alan Sears

Alan Sears, Esquire

ADF President, CEO, & General Counsel

March 3, 2009

The main reason for hiring firefighters, one might reason, is to fight fires... not spark controversy.

But San Diego officials opted to create a firestorm when they compelled four city firefighters – over the men's most strenuous objections – to participate in the city's 2007 "Gay Pride Parade."  The four men were well aware of the aggressively lascivious nature of the annual event and knew they'd be subjected to a steady stream of sexual comments and gestures from participants and spectators.

And that's exactly what happened.  The men were sexually harassed and pelted with lewd cat calls and obscene gestures throughout the parade while riding in their fire truck amid a host of sexual displays and graphic images.

"Many people may mistakenly think the 'gay pride' parade is merely a 'fun' event," said ADF Senior Counsel Joe Infranco, who is co-counsel in the case. "They never would have imagined the crude sexual harassment these firefighters were forced to endure. But in truth, the goal of homosexual behavior advocates is to undermine society's long-held values. They continue to seek this, whether by demanding participation in 'gay pride' parades or by trampling the democratic process to redefine marriage."

Adding injury to insult, the four faced further harassment and retaliation from their superiors in the department when they complained about their treatment and about being forced to participate in the event.  They eventually filed suit against the city for disregarding their objections and then retaliating against them.  On February 17, a San Diego jury found in favor of the firefighters, and the San Diego Fire Department has changed its policy so employees will no longer be forced against their will to participate in events like the parade.

"Government employees should never be forced to participate in events or acts that violate their sincerely held beliefs," said ADF-allied attorney Charles LiMandri, the West Coast Regional Director of the Thomas More Law Center. "We are pleased with the jury's verdict recognizing the firefighters' right to abstain from activities that they consider morally offensive and that subject them to harassment."

This was an important victory – not just for these four brave firefighters, but for city employees all over the country who are being compelled to surrender their deepest convictions at the office door.  Please be in prayer for those who are finding the courage to stand up for their beliefs and their constitutional freedoms – including the freedom to disagree with the dictates of a politically-correct culture.  And please pray, too, for our ADF lawyers, as we defend these crucial rights.