Court Upholds Firefighters' Gay Pride Verdict

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com October 17 2010 12:40 PM ET

A California appeals court has upheld a verdict that awarded damages to four San Diego firefighters who claim they were required to participate in the city’s 2007 gay pride parade.

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, the ruling was issued Thursday by the fourth district court of appeal, one week after oral arguments were heard.

“The 2009 jury found the firefighters were sexually harassed by some parade participants and spectators and awarded them a total of $34,300 plus more than a half-million dollars in legal fees,” reported the Union-Tribune. “The firefighters, John Ghiotto, Chad Allison, Jason Hewitt and Alexander Kane, had always maintained money was not the issue and that they had sued because they felt it was wrong to have been forced by their superiors to take part in the parade.”

The Union-Tribune further reported, “The firefighters testified during the trial that the parade experience left them with headaches, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome and other stress-related symptoms. They also testified that they were subjected to catcalls and saw barely clothed men simulate sex acts along the route on University Avenue in Hillcrest, which is home to a large gay population.”

The firefighters in the case, Ghiotto vs. City of San Diego, were represented by the conservative Christian legal group, the Alliance Defense Fund. The city has not yet decided whether to take the case to a higher court.