Firefighters Ordered to Man Gay Pride Parade

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Outside of gay marriage, another legal battle is brewing in California

Four San Diego firefighters ordered to work a gay pride parade are suing the city for sexual harassment and the violation of their freedom of speech.

"Me and my crew were given a direct order to be in that parade," captain John Ghiotto said.

Ghiotto had served with the San Diego fire department for 19 years before receiving parade orders for the first time. He says he and his fellow crew members feared retaliation if they refused to go along.

"My engineer was on the captain's list. I was on the battalion chief's list, and if you go against any type of order I would be suspended on the spot," he explained.

The crew went ahead with orders. Pictures from the day show an event charged with sexual activity and nudity.

"The stuff that goes on in that parade, if I was to go out and take pictures of some of that stuff we saw out there and hang it in the fire station, I would be disciplined," Ghiotto said.

The firefighter's lawsuit charges the city of San Diego with sexual harassment, violation of freedom of speech and retaliation.

The San Diego city attorney called the retaliation charges "petty" and "not true."

City officials did admit, however, they got "caught short" on the day of the parade and asked Ghiotto's crew for help.

Now the city has an explicit parade policy-- strictly volunteer.

The fire department has participated in the annual gay pride event for 15 years with no complaints until now.

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