The Truth About Don Mendell And Protect Marriage Maine’s Anti-Equality Ad
October 15, 2012 3:12 pm ET by Carlos Maza
Protect Marriage Maine has launched a series of television ads warning voters of the supposed dangers of legalizing same-sex marriage. One ad – titled “Consequences” – features Don Mendell, a Maine high school counselor who claims he was nearly fired for supporting traditional marriage:
MENDELL: I was a successful school counselor in Maine for over twenty years, once nominated as teacher of the year. Yet, when I supported traditional marriage, they tried to get me fired. They went after my state license, claiming that supporting marriage as between one man and one woman is discriminatory.
Mendell’s story fits in perfectly with the “gays vs liberty” narrative that anti-gay groups have been peddling to voters in the lead up to the state’s vote on marriage equality this November. But the ad leaves out key details and is extremely misleading to viewers.
1. Mendell Wasn’t A Private Figure. Protect Marriage Maine’s ad fails to mention that Mendell chose to be featured in another television ad during the state’s 2009 referendum on same-sex marriage, in which he asks voters to “prevent homosexual marriage from being pushed on Maine students.” He also wrote several letters to the editor of Maine’s Bangor Daily News, warning that gay activists were trying to “use children’s trusting nature to turn them against the natural law.”
2. Complaints Against Mendell Weren’t Caused By Marriage Equality. Mendell implies that he came under investigation for opposing the same-sex marriage law. However, same-sex marriage was still illegal in Maine at the time of his investigation. Instead, the complaints against Mendell were filed by his colleagues who were concerned that he had violated the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics by voicing his opposition to gay marriage and wouldn’t be able to effectively counsel LGBT students.
3. Mendell Didn’t Just Oppose Same-Sex Marriage. Mendell’s animosity towards LGBT people went far beyond simply opposing marriage equality. Good As You’s Jeremy Hooper noted that Mendell’s history of anti-gay commentary includes accusing gay activists of using “Orwellian” tactics to try to “brainwash” students. He’s also referred to the fight for marriage equality as “inherently evil.”
4. Complaints Against Mendell Were Ultimately Dismissed. Protect Marriage Maine’s ad also fails to mention that the complaints filed against Mendell were eventually dismissed by Maine’s state licensing board. The Board of Social Worker Licensure dropped the complaints, claiming it found “insufficient evidence that Mendell had violated the code of ethics.”
Research intern Alessandra DiMonda contributed to this post.