Firefighters | Gay Pride | News | San Diego

San Diego Firefighters Sue Dept for Gay Pride Sexual Harassment

Four of San Diego's city firefighters have filed a request with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing asking for the right to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department after they say they were forced to participate in the San Diego gay pride parade that took place on July 21. The firefighters say that while taking part in the parade they were sexually harassed, according to 10news:

Sdfirerescue"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."

JarmanFire Chief Tracy Jarman, a lesbian, has apologized to Fire Capt. John Ghiotto, Engineer Jason Hewett and firefighters Chad Allison and Alex Kane and says she's having the the city's Equal Employment Investigative Office take a look at the situation, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. The city's firefighters have participated in the gay pride parade for the last 15 years without incident.

Says CBS8: "They're trained to risk their lives battling fires, but some local firefighters suggest nothing could have prepared them for the insults and obscenities they faced at this year's gay pride parade."

The Union-Tribune reports: "In statements filed with the state, the men said that along the parade route, they were subjected to offensive lewd comments such as, 'You can put out my fire,' and saw men blowing kisses at them. Then, they said, they had to endure protesters who yelled at them that homosexuality was a sin. Some comments were too risque to print."

So, according to the paper, they had to endure men complimenting them for their looks, as well as experience first-hand the religious bigotry gay people must endure every day.

Poor things.

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  1. This is insane. The job of a fireman is to fight fires. period. There job, no matter what neighborhood they live in, is not to be your friend. That lesbian had no business ordering them to be in a gay parade (assuming she did). They have every right to sue and I hope the win. I totally agree with those posters who see clearly how many times we as gay men throw out "homophobe" or "self-hate" rather than observe our actions and take responsibility for juvenile behavior. And those who are acting self rightous ("this is what women go through"), just stop. no matter how many episodes of the golden girls you watch, you have no idea what a woman goes through. just stop.

    Posted by: Team Firemen | Aug 7, 2007 3:08:29 PM

  2. My first inclination was to say that I don't really believe firefighters (or other city personnel) should be forced to participate in the GLBT Pride Parade. But on second thought, it is community outreach. And firefighters participate in all sort of community outreach with many different populations, so why shouldn't they have to perform community outreach with the GLBT community?

    As for the charges of sexual harrassment: Sexual harrassment (at least in terms of employment law) occurs when one is the subject of unwanted sexual attention FROM A SUPERVISOR OR BOSS. These firemen don't have a case. And it is nothing more than ludicrous grandstanding that they are yelling 'Sexual harrassment!'...more akin, really, to yelling 'Fire!' in a crowded theater.

    Posted by: peterparker | Aug 7, 2007 3:17:33 PM

  3. No, Team Firemen, and the rest who think you know the "job of a fireman".

    A fireman is a city employee. Sure they fight fires but they do a great many other things as well. Some teach fire safety, some are first medical responders, they are drop-off locations for unwanted newborns, and hell, some rescue kittens from a tree.

    But ultimately, their job is to do what they are instructed by their department towards the betterment of the safety and adminstration of the city. And that quite often means being seen as the face of the city's civil services.

    And if you can't drive down the street and be civil, then you can't represent the city and you aren't doing your job.

    This is the mission statement of the SDFD:

    "Members of the Department guarantee to the people of San Diego that we will provide dependable service in a responsive fashion, while showing care and compassion for those in need. We will protect lives, property and the environment through fire suppression, rescue, disaster preparedness, fire prevention and community education, medical care and hazardous material mitigation.

    The members of this department, working together, will provide a professional and caring environment that is fair, honest, ethical, and that treats all individuals with respect and dignity.

    The Department will be a progressive, service oriented organization which provides innovative and effective leadership.

    Department members will be supportive and responsive to the needs of city government in a loyal, ethical, and professional manner.

    As a national role model within the Fire Service, this department will cooperatively participate at all levels in developing innovative concepts and issues that advance the profession."

    These particular firefighters found themselves unable to treat all citizens with respect and dignity and they were unable to supportive and responsive to the needs of city government. Clearly they can't do their job and should be replaced by someone who can.

    Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Aug 7, 2007 3:20:24 PM

  4. Also from their site:

    "The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department puts a high priority on interacting with the citizens it serves. When schedules permit and when not committed to a fire or a medical incident, crews participate in station tours, school visits and community group presentations within the City of San Diego"

    If these firefighters can't interact with the citizens in their station neighborhood, why are they still on the payroll?

    Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Aug 7, 2007 3:24:47 PM

  5. This article is so great, I love how the blades doesn’t strike both ways for homosexuals! They can be sexually harassed and discriminated and belittled, and can sue the pants off anyone for it. But GOD FORBID a straight guy get offended by someone gay and try to sue someone.

    “As well as experience first-hand the religious bigotry gay people must endure every day."
    I would assume that since anyone that is gay has to endure "religious bigotry" on a daily basis, they would feel compelled to prevent anyone else from feeling that way?

    Posted by: Jeff | Aug 7, 2007 3:25:35 PM

  6. I'm sorry, but I don't recall the fireman yelling out to the was the other way around..the people were yelling AT the fireman. nothing in what you posted has anything to do with what happened. The fact that fireman do community outreach does not mean they have to do whatever their supervisor says "in the name of community outreach". under that theory, they could be ordered to a Klan march. The issue is whether they should or can be ordered to participate in something that clearly goes against what they believe in and whether or not that outweighs the "benefit" of the community outreach. If they have to be subjected to taunts and sexual barbs, then I say it does not. clearly the "community" is not interested in being reached out to in any decent manner.

    Posted by: Team Fireman | Aug 7, 2007 3:32:04 PM

  7. a gay person should be treated for a mental disorder, because any man that would perfer a man over the softness and tenderness of a woman is mentalty ill.

    Posted by: charles | Aug 7, 2007 3:34:10 PM

  8. sorry, i previous posted was directed to tim kincaid.

    Posted by: Team Fireman | Aug 7, 2007 3:47:14 PM

  9. Well, Charles, they've tried that. They've tried shock therapy, aversion therapy, labotomies, bashing attacks, concentration camps, prison sentences, hard labor camps, lynchings, ostricism from family, public humiliation by religious institutions, flogging, hanging, burning at the stake, impalement(they quickly gave up on that one, thought we might like it). They've tried everything to stop us; but gay men still keep being attracted to men. Why it even happened in "The City and the Pillar"

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Aug 7, 2007 3:53:12 PM

  10. Yet here you are again Charles wishing one of us would but a big hard dick up you ass.

    You know Charles, you should join Team Fireman and thetruth to start your own gay hate web site. You three bigot could share each others butt-plugs and save money.

    Posted by: Charles is an A hole | Aug 7, 2007 4:00:06 PM

  11. Team Fireman,I've got to disagree with you on this. Community outreach is part of the mission of the SDFD. This wasn't some spur of the moment decision by the Chief. The SDFD had participated in the parade for 15 years I believe. So most of these guys probably knew or should have known before hiring that this was part of the job. Just as they know that they will probably have to go the MLK parade and the Puerto Rican day parade and the German Festival and high school football games and so on and so on.

    A firefighter is a public servant. As a public servant you have to swallow your own opinions and beliefs and subjugate them to will of the political masters you serve. So if they were ordered to the parade they go, no questions asked.

    To do otherwise is the thin edge of the wedge. If the firefighters can refuse to participate in an assignment with which he morally disagrees, then he can start refusing to treat and rescue those with whom he has a moral problem. Any emergency responder has encoutered this.

    More importantly, these firefighters let their brothers down. It's department policy to participate and historically the department has participated for 15 years. Something happens to the special parade crew and the local station crew has to cover this assignment.

    Firefighters claim to have a strong bond of brotherhood and the mentality of "you go, we go" and the willingness to do anything to help a brother or sister firefighter. So instead of handling the assignment for their brother firefighters with dignity and respect, they used it as a soapbox to advance a moral cause. It saddens me.

    Posted by: Ed | Aug 7, 2007 4:01:42 PM

  12. i don't think moral has anything to do with it. GOD made it the exit not an entry.

    Posted by: charles | Aug 7, 2007 4:09:35 PM

  13. Tim
    I don't think anybody thinks about whether or not they will or won't march in a parade as a factor in becoming a fireman. you really believe men say, hmmmm, before I take that test, am i sure I want to march in a parade? point is whether or not they have to attend EVERY parade....and whether they can be ORDERED to...if they volunteer, that's one thing..but to think that every fireman has to attend EVERY parade?! (mlk, puerto rican, gay, jamaican day parade, mexico parade). c'mon. that's a lot of parades to be COMPELLED to attend. that's the issue. can they be compelled to attend every parade in that city. I stand by what i said, their primary concern is the safety of the community in terms of fire prevention. parades are secondary, if that. and "community outreach" can be interpreted to mean anything the chief says it does without any regards to the employees civil liberties? i think not. civil servants also have civil rights and liberties and the issue is still whether someone can be ordered to be subjected to taunts and jeers all in the name of community outreach. I still say no. If, in those other parades (black, hispanic, etc.), the same things happen, then I might better see your point...but if it only happened in the gay parades, then what exactly is the benefit to the community?...fireman to leer at?

    Posted by: Team Fireman | Aug 7, 2007 4:32:14 PM

  14. first off the people who live in Hillcrest should be outraged at the fact the fire engine they pay for in their area was out of service for 5 hours so it could be in the parade. What would happen if someone went into cardiac arrest or was choking on a hot dog and an engine had to respond from another district. The engines normally beat the ambulances to the response due to a limited number of the ambulances. Every fire engine has a paramedic on board to meet the city's standard for 2 paramedics on every medical response. God forbid a fire breaks and the fire engine is out of service in a parade.

    The fire department has NO business putting fire apparatus into parades of any nature. Off duty personnel who want to participate should go on their own time and leave the politics out of the work place!!! I know these men and they are outstanding people who love to go to work and protect and help people. ALL people. None of them are "homophobic" or discriminate against gay's/lesbians.

    The fact is they were forced into a situation by their employeers. Their chiefs knew there was a history of harassment during the parade by other firefighters in recent years writting letters to their chiefs describing it. Yet they forced employees into the environment to be subjected to that behavior. It's too bad that this had to happen when all of it could have been avoid so easily. VERY poor decision making on behave of those fire chiefs.

    Posted by: j | Aug 7, 2007 4:55:40 PM

  15. These guys deserve a huge settlement and that fire chief deserves a demotion. They had no business being in the parade if they didn't want to be there. Being eye-candy for a bunch of gay men is not in their job description.

    We don't want people at gay pride events who don't want to be there - that's ridiculous and completely opposite of the intent of gay pride celebrations.

    Posted by: Ray | Aug 7, 2007 5:19:26 PM

  16. Now I know that it is easier to react to what you think that you know but as always it is important to read all of the facts that are presented. The truth is so many of you think that if you make crude or superior comments that will detract from the truth; well that is not so. These men have made their case and the evidence points in their favor. Now it is up to the courts to decide how things will proceed.

    Again try to read all of the facts that are presented thus far, I know that so many of you want to react to what you “think” you know. Information is there for a purpose make use of it. It is hilarious to me as a gay man that when you do not share the group think you are a bigot; you hate yourself and other comments of demotion and despair. It is no wonder there are so many in the gay community are nothing but clones in thought; in actions and appearance. Who is brave enough to stand alone as an individual? The gay community has fooled itself and others to believe that “they” are open to change and tolerance. The gay community is just as hate filled as the straight world and so many of you men have lost your “true” voice inside of yourself out of fear of rejection…yet again in your personal life.

    Question: how many of you gay men out there have encountered such cold distant behaviors from the very gay men you were told would be open and kind to you because of some superficial reason that deeply hurt you. Do please answer the question.

    As a black man, I experienced the same thing earlier on in my life. People, family, friends and others told me all my life to act a certain way or you will not "black" enough. If I followed that advice I might not have gone to college; traveled around the world; speak 4 languages; and so many other GREAT things that have made me a whole person that welcomes growth.

    Well I am gay and black enough for me and no one else.

    I provided links below to the following:

    The compliant from the firefighters; this complaint has a very detailed timeline of events whereas they clearly state that they did not want to participate in the gay pride parade.

    2. California State Law on Sexual Harassment

    Posted by: TheTruth | Aug 7, 2007 6:30:26 PM

  17. many of you - including the Truth are full of shit legally. These men haven't made anything. To make their case, the case has to be tried. It hasn't been tried yet. It hasn't even been aproved to move forward. As I said before I don't know the specifics of sexual harassment law in California, but this seems a bit bizzare that in the course of doing a job some random person in a crowd yells want to suck my dick can give you an excuse to say sexual harrasment. As I also said - does that now mean that women who are firefighters who are walking down the street and some yells Hey baby you want me to fuck you can now sue the department too? That's the logic here, and its as slipper slope kind of argument.

    Posted by: akaison | Aug 7, 2007 6:50:28 PM

  18. by the way - someone above said sexual harrasment must mean someone in a position of authority. it can also include co workers where the management does nothing about it. but to my knowledge it hasn't included people who aren't under managemet control. This is mostly an excuse for nutcase extremist to claim - see there you go about gays, and what's really funny is that if they win they will be broadening the definition of sexual harrasment and discrimination in a way that actually could help us out.

    Posted by: akaison | Aug 7, 2007 6:52:55 PM

  19. Akaison, you obviously should stop, think then re-think before you start to type. You even stated you don't know specifics of sexual harrasment law in california or from the sounds of it, anywhere. The fire chiefs knew their employees would be subjected to harrasment and FORCED them into the situation. They had a duty to protect their employees by keeping them out of those types of sexual harrasment situations when it's known that it is or will happen. Every parade the SDFD has participated in the employees who have gone did so on a volunteer basis. These men were the first to be forced to participate. I encourage you to look up the law and become educated before you start slinging false information around!! You can find the codes that were broken on the san diego union tribune web page or kogo has them listed as well. Once again stop spreading false statements!

    Posted by: j | Aug 7, 2007 7:16:43 PM

  20. AKAISON, I just read that your a lawyer?.?. What type of law do you practice? Look, their was an obvious wronge doing on the part of the fire department for forcing these people into this environment. I can't stress it enough......look up the law before you claim that your a lawyer and don't even know the laws on this subject. I sure wouldn't retain you for any legal advice. Makes you look like a pretty shotty lawyer!

    Posted by: j | Aug 7, 2007 7:23:43 PM

  21. Unfortunately, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, as clarified by Assembly Bill 76 in 2003, specifically states the following:

    "This bill would revise the provision summarized in the first paragraph above to include sexual harassment by nonemployees if the employer knows or should have known of the incident and fails to take corrective action."

    In the examples Akaison cites, the department would not be liable, inasmuch as there would be no reason to suspect sexual imagery or offensive statements to be made in the act of fighting fires, and it's impossible to predict random behavior.

    But attempting to argue that inappropriate behavior and sexual imagery should not be expected at a Pride parade is a comedy routine worthy of Seinfeld.

    And as for Timothy Kincaid, that's hilarious. That's like saying a woman should be forced to take sexual comments and insults about her gender because she's a "city official" and if she complains, she's not showing proper respect to citizens.

    Posted by: North Dallas Thirty | Aug 7, 2007 7:41:56 PM

  22. Thank you "J", again I ask that you read the complaint and what "California" law is of which I also provided you a link.

    Knee jerk reactions, name calling and profanity are ways to deflect and distance the truth.

    Also don't you just love how now with the internet: there are so many lawyers online at the precise moment you need them; so many people who know the people that this has happened to; the I was there person; all of these false and less than authentic attempts to be intimately close to something or someone.

    BTW: no one answered my question, see my previous post if you are wondering.

    Posted by: TheTruth | Aug 7, 2007 7:47:11 PM

  23. 'J' if you know so much about how the fire dept. works you would know that when a crew is out at a call, fire, parade, whatever for any length of time, another engine and crew are moved into position to cover that area. So I don't think anyone was in danger because one piece of equipment was used in a parade.

    Posted by: Ryan Murphy | Aug 7, 2007 9:37:32 PM

  24. They just don't want people to assume they're gay... Really, they were so caught between a rock and a hard-on. The anti-gays wanna stone ya and the gays wanna bone ya. But I don't think paranoia will hold up in court.

    Posted by: kc | Aug 7, 2007 10:05:25 PM

  25. Ryan Murphy,
    once again someone who doesn't know the facts. There was NO move up crew to engines 5 district!! I know this to be a actual fact. The department moves up crews for all sorts of different reasons. Such as, in service training(ist), fires, extended calls and so on but for an event that drew 200,000 people to engine 5's district, on top of the normal population that lives there no engines were "moved up" to cover the area. That in itself is criminal. The people who live in Hillcrest should be outraged. By the way that IS a fact not speculation.

    Posted by: j | Aug 7, 2007 10:20:27 PM

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