Don Mendell Is NOM’s Newest “Anti-Defamation” Star
October 22, 2012 2:56 pm ET by Carlos Maza
A notorious anti-gay Maine activist is the latest subject of the National Organization for Marriage’s failed Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance, according to a video released Monday. His story, like the ones in most Marriage ADA videos, fails to demonstrate an example of actual defamation.
NOM released a Marriage ADA video this morning detailing the story of Don Mendell, a Maine high school counselor who was investigated by the state’s licensing board after he appeared in a 2009 ad falsely claiming that students would be forced to learn about same-sex marriage in school:
NOM’s video presents a highly misleading version of the events surrounding Mendell’s investigation, which still fails to demonstrate an example of “defamation.”
The complaint against Mendell was filed by several of his colleagues who were concerned that his public involvement in an anti-gay campaign undermined his ability to effectively counsel LGBT students. In addition to starring in the anti-gay TV ad, Mendell had written several anti-gay letters to the editor of Maine’s Bangor Daily News, including one in which he claimed gay activists were trying to “use children’s trusting nature to turn them against the natural law.”
Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation eventually dismissed the complaint against Mendell. According to a recent Mainers United press release:
The complaints against Mr. Mendell were dismissed by the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation in the Baldacci administration on First Amendment grounds.
Mr. Mendell’s right to participate publicly in a political campaign were confirmed by a Democratic administration that held a view contrary to the one expressed by Mr. Mendell.
There was no lawsuit filed in relation to this complaint or Mr. Mendell’s activities. [emphasis original]
Mendell’s involvement in Maine’s 2009 anti-equality campaign was certainly the catalyst for his investigation, but it’s hard to prove that he was “defamed” by the state’s licensing board.
Legitimate questions were raised about whether his public statements about homosexuality and children might affect his ability to effectively support LGBT students. And a pro-gay government administration absolved Mendell of any wrongdoing, affirming his right to participate in political campaigns.
The latest Marriage ADA video adds to NOM’s long list of “defamation” examples that aren’t so. If NOM selected these stories to support the myth that opponents of same-sex marriage are “facing threats to their person, property or livelihood,” it’s no wonder the group has such a terrible track record of actually proving it in court.