Firefighters’ Lawsuit against City Over Forced Participation in Gay Pride Parade Ends in Mistrial

Tue Oct 7, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

SAN DIEGO, October 7, 2008 ( - The suit filed against the city of San Diego by four firefighters who were commanded against their wills to drive a fire truck in the city’s "gay pride" parade has ended in a deadlock among the jurors; a mistrial has been declared.

Charles LiMandri, West Coast director of the Thomas More Law Center and attorney representing the firefighters, called the mistrial "extremely frustrating" and is awaiting a new trial scheduled for January 16, according to a San Jose Mercury News report.

The firefighters were ordered to ride in the parade by Assistant Chief Jeff Carle, who testified that he was aware that the parade was offensive but defended his actions, saying, "I was faced with not having an engine in the pride parade. I didn’t think it would be proper to be absent in that parade when we’re present in almost every other one."

The four men said the sexually explicit environment at the parade was so vulgar and disturbing that each of them sought therapy after the event.

"You could not even look at the crowd without getting some type of sexual gesture," one firefighter said. "If any crew member were to hang up pictures at the station of what we saw, we would be disciplined."

Eight of the 12 members of the jury felt the firefighters were subjected to sexual harassment, but that was one short of what was needed to move the trial forward.

Juror Helene Matthews told Mercury News reporters she felt the firefighters were sexually harassed but that others on the panel "dug in from the get-go and were not willing to change their minds or think differently."

"Whether you’re gay, whether you’re straight, whatever, none of us should have to go into the workplace and be subjected to things that go against our morals," Matthews said.

Jury forewoman Susan Wolking said she also felt the firefighters were wronged but that the jury wasn’t even close to agreement.

See related coverage:

Trial Begins for Firefighters Suing City over Forced Participation in Gay Pride Parade

San Diego Firefighters Forced to Participate in "Gay Pride" Parade File Lawsuit Against City

Victory for San Diego Firefighters: No Longer Forced to Drive in Gay Parade

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