“The mini-sized payout the jury awarded for emotional distress to the firefighters speaks volumes about the so-called notion that they endured severe or pervasive trauma while wearing earphones, sitting six feet off the ground inside a fire truck with the windows rolled up and a roaring diesel engine powering them along a one-mile parade route. This is the same parade route followed by hundreds of public safety and law enforcement officers annually who are unconditionally welcomed with applause by cheering crowds.
“Many believe this case was all about money, which cannot be proven. But we find it remarkable that out of 9,000 parade participants and 150,000 spectators who stood on the sidelines – both gay and straight — that the jury could determine harassment against four individuals when there hasn’t been a single complaint of this nature ever filed with San Diego Pride. We also bring into question the firefighters’ relentless pursuit of this case, given the fact that the Fire Department changed its parade policy in favor of them almost immediately after their complaints were lodged.
“The firefighter’s attorney Charles LiMandri has reportedly funded the $1.1 million cost of litigation, and according to LiMandri’s website, what was really on trial was the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered citizens of San Diego and their Constitutional right to assemble in public — not the fire department nor the City of San Diego. LiMandri’s site states: “Don’t let the radical gay agenda trample our Christian beliefs and constitutional rights.”
“It appears the four firefighters provided attorney Charles LiMandri and his associates at the Thomas More Law Center, an ultra-conservative Christian legal group that claims it “defends and promotes the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life,” the opportunity to further their agenda. A few weeks after the 2007 parade, the leadership of the Thomas More Law Center tried placing the blame on the firefighter’s required participation in the parade on “radical homosexual activists.”
“While some call this a `win’ for the firefighters, we believe the verdict sets a dangerous precedent that infringes on everyone’s right to free speech in both civic and private events, especially when perceived harassment is involved.” -San Diego Pride executive director Ron deHarte, responding to Tuesday’s decision in favor San Diego firefighters who sued for sexual harassment because they had to drive a firetruck during the 2007 parade.