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

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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”.