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US: Court rejects lawsuit from firefighters ‘forced’ to drive truck in Pride parade

Nick Duffy January 3, 2015
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The Rhode Island Supreme Court has rejected a case from two Catholic firefighters, who claim they were ‘forced’ to drive their fire engine in a Pride parade.

Stephen Deninno and Theodore Fabrizio had attempted to sue then-Mayor Buddy Cianci and fire chief James Rattigan over the 2001 incident, after they claimed they were unfairly made to take part in the parade.

The pair’s long-running suit was filed over a decade ago, and claims that as Roman Catholics, they should not have to support or condone homosexuality. The pair asked to be re-assigned, but were ordered to do their jobs.

Justice William Robinson last week smacked down the pair’s case – pointing out the parade is a legitimate work assignment as part of the fire department’s community engagement, and that the department also takes part in the Columbus day parade.

He wrote: “The respondents’ appearance in the parade, solely as members of the Providence Fire Department, did not constitute a form of expression on their part. Rather, it was simply the accomplishing of a task assigned to an engine company of the Providence Fire Department.”

The judge also bemoaned the slow progress of the case, branding it “jarndycean” – referring to the fictional case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce in Dickens novel Bleak House.

In the novel, the Jarndyce case “drones on for so long and is so complicated that no one alive knows what it means”.

Related topics: Anti-gay, Catholic, Firefighers, firefighter, homophobic, parade, Pride, Rhode Island, US

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