Imagine a fire department chief ordering a crew to take part in a parade that promotes one side of the immigration-illegal alien issue. Imagine that the crew objected to being used as pawns in this political debate--a debate in which city employees should be engaged only on their own time. And suppose that the consequences of refusing this order ranged from lost wages to a significant reduction in promotion opportunities.
Such an order would constitute an outrageous misuse of city assets and personnel--directly involving employees in matters where even the improper use of stationery constitutes a breach of the wall that separates city business and partisan politics.
Add complaints about sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, and you have a reasonable parallel to the order issued by a San Diego Fire Department official to four firemen with respect to the Gay Pride parade that took place in San Diego on July 21.
Despite their unanimous objections, a crew of four was ordered to represent the department in this event that Fire Chief Tracy Jarman later described as a “fun event.” Obviously the consciences and religious sensibilities of the firemen were not as important to Jarman and department officials as the need to show that the city backs an agenda that is, to say the least, controversial.
During this parade, according to complaints the firemen later submitted to city officials, the crew was subjected to gross sexual taunts and harassment--a result surprising only to individuals whose exposure to pride events are mediated by mainstream media sources that scrupulously edit out all scenes inconsistent with their family friendly spin. Near-nude sexual gyrations and come-hither vulgarities don’t grace TV portraits or most newspaper accounts of such festivities.
Chief Jarman, in response to these germinating lawsuits, has assured the public that she takes seriously any complaint about sexual harassment, no matter its origin. (Initial departmental response to these complainants, however, was hardly supportive.) Jarman, an open lesbian, has also assured the public that only volunteers will represent the department in future Pride parades. Moreover, to insure that such volunteers are forthcoming, overtime pay will be made available as a last-ditch incentive.
What is not addressed in this CYA response is why city employees have been involved at all for the last fifteen years with a politically-charged event. If that paragon of moral equivocation, Jerry Sanders, wants to attend, so be it. He’s an elected official. But there’s no reason taxpayers should be tapped to support an agenda many don’t support.
If Chief Jarman thinks it’s OK to promote her agenda with city assets, perhaps she’ll consider providing a fire engine and crew for a cause she doesn’t support—like a Protection of Marriage parade that honors the values embraced by those taxpaying stiffs who overwhelmingly passed Proposition 22 just seven years ago.
But maybe city funds and manpower are only available for PC causes. Presently, Christmas and crosses are too divisive for public support—but not gay lifestyles.