Thirty members of Garden State Equality protested yesterday at a Secaucus, NJ Town Council meeting over what they thought might be the reinstatement of three volunteer firefighters who recently lost a lawsuit brought by a gay couple claiming the firefighters harassed them in a mob attack.
The gay couple was awarded $2.84 million in the suit.
There was no reinstatement, but one of the firefighters was promoted to superintendent of the Public Works Department. The promotion came as a shock to Garden State Equality chair Steven Goldstein, who said the Mayor neglected to inform him of the promotion at a meeting one day prior.
Here's a report on the original incident, offered when the case against the firefighters was filed:
"On the morning of April 25, 2004, a gay couple living in Secaucus
was awakened by the sound of raucous partying at the firehouse next
door. After one of the men, Timothy Carter, approached a group of
firefighters about 1 a.m. asking them to keep it down, they allegedly
began berating him. When he returned to the house, what the couple
described as a drunken mob shook their fence, banged on the side of the
house and loudly threatened to kill the men and their dogs. Despite
complaints to the town, Carter and his partner, Peter De Vries, allege
little was done to discipline the firefighters and said they lived in
constant fear before moving away…
… In opening statements yesterday before a Superior Court jury,
Mullin said the firefighters shouted derogatory, anti-homosexual
epithets and death threats. 'They're terrified,' Mullin said of the
couple. 'They're paralyzed with fear.' Police arrived quickly but the
hate crime was never fully investigated by Secaucus officials, according
to court papers filed by the couple. But police made no arrests and no
one from the firehouse was thrown off the volunteer force. In their
defense, town officials noted the prompt response by police and the fact
that the firefighters were officially off-duty at the time."