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11/01/2009

Don, we now are gays in peril: And we're the one's getting decked in the halls

by Jeremy Hooper

FACT: Donald Mendell, a guidance counselor at Maine's Nokomis Regional High School, chose to inject himself into the gay rights debate. In a 12/01/08 letter to the Bangor Daily News, he referred to marriage equality as "a change that strikes to the heart of the Sacraments," denying that same-sex marriage is something that "our Lord would support." In a 1/4 web comment, he intimated that marriage for gay couples will "ridicule tradition and belief in natural law." There's also this 1/22 Bangor Daily News letter warning of the "myriad of ramifications" that will supposedly accompany marriage equality. Plus there's a 5/2 letter in which he warns "thinking folks" of the "age-old ruse" of comparing homosexuality to race. And last but not least in terms of letters, there's the 9/26 BDN letter where he officially came out in support of 'Yes on 1," immediately prompting Stand For Marriage Maine to tout his words on their site.

FACT: Don Mendell then chose to appear in a "yes on 1" ad.

Don-MendellFACT: Because of Mr. Mendell's continued record, this site came out and said that we would be concerned if we had a child in Nokomis. Why? Well, because for LGBT people, Mr. Mendell's words are disquieting. We didn't say that his actions discredit his career, nor did we ever deny his knowledge or training. We don't believe that they do. Also, this site has in no way suggested that he forfeits his right to speak because of his views, as that goes against everything we believe. But what we have stated is that we, as LGBT people, would be uncomfortable sending our child to this particular educational professional, based on his own decision to make known his faith-based views about how we gay folk, among other things, supposedly "ridicule tradition and belief in natural law." After all, these are not the kinds of teachings we wish to impart on children who attend a public, tax-supported institution! Just as Mr. Mendell has a right to speak out, so do we. We have exercised that right, unabashedly and unapologetically.

FACT: Last week, it came to light that one individual chose to file a complaint against Mr. Mendell with the Maine Department of Financial and Professional Regulations. One sole person -- not the "No on 1" campaign or the LGBT population as a whole. One person. Now, this sort of complaint is not something that this site or 90+% of its readership would ever file or suggest for others to file. However, it is something that everyone has the RIGHT to do. One can file a complaint because they don't like the color sweaters that another person wears. One can file a complaint because they're simply in a bad mood that day. There are any number of reasons why one can file a complaint, and they exist all along the spectrum from "frivolous" to "worthy." The ability to file said complaint doesn't speak to the merits of any one complaint -- it speaks to our freedoms as a people.

FACT: The Department of Financial and Professional Regulations purposefully keeps these complaints confidential, primarily so people will refrain from coming to false conclusions on the basis of a filed complaint. This site has conversed with the department about this issue. The bottom line is that they don't want to confuse people into thinking that a complaint necessarily equals merit, or to garner press on the basis of a simple grievance. They want the complaint to remain between the involved parties until some sort of decision is reached. Obviously and understandably.

FACT: On his own will, Mr. Mendell has chosen to go another route. He and the "yes on 1" campaign have chosen to put it out there for all to debate, pick apart, comment on, etc. In short: They have chosen to muddy and even weaken the process because they want to use this ONE COMPLAINT against Mr. Mendell as a campign issue:

STATEMENT FROM STAND FOR MARRIAGE MAINE
REGARDING THREAT TO YES ON 1 TV AD SPOKESMAN DON MENDELL

The following statement can be attributed to Marc Mutty, chairman, Stand for Marriage Maine:

“I want to alert you to a disturbing development that confirms what we have been saying about the larger threat that redefining marriage poses to every Mainer.

“Don Mendell, one of our spokesmen who appeared in a television ad for Stand for Marriage Maine, has come under attack by our opponents.

“Don is a high school guidance counselor and licensed social worker. His appearance in the television ad prompted a complaint to the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation – requesting that his license to practice social work in the state of Maine be stripped away – simply because of his personal opinion on marriage.

“It is ironic that those who claim tolerance as their highest value prove themselves to be so intolerant that they would go so far as to threaten a father’s career and put his family’s future at risk. This latest attack highlights the true agenda of those who demand that marriage be redefined.

“No one who opposes Question 1 is in similar danger from those who support marriage between one man and one woman.

“Our opponents want to shut us down. We have no interest in limiting free speech and threatening the right of conscience for those who disagree. So who’s really intolerant?

“This attack proves that a “YES” vote next Tuesday is about much more than protecting marriage. It is also about preserving free speech, religious liberty and right of conscience and about what is taught to children.

“This threat to Don and his family’s livelihood is proof that those who demand marriage be redefined seek to punish and silence those who disagree.

“It is our hope that the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation dismisses this complaint for what it is – nonsense. The Alliance Defense Fund – a legal alliance of attorneys committed to defending the right of people to freely live out their faith – is considering potential action on behalf of Don’s fundamental liberties.

“If the people of Maine vote Yes on Question 1 to protect marriage, we have hope that free speech and religious liberty will be respected. If marriage is not protected, Don will only be the first victim.

STATEMENT FROM STAND FOR MARRIAGE MAINE [SFMM]

And here's another:

Screen Shot 2009-11-01 At 4.26.12 Pm-1

MYTH: That Mr. Mendell's actions were limited to his ad appearance

MYTH: That this, a sole complaint from a sole person, has ANYTHING to do with the NO ON 1 campaign

MYTH: That marriage law will in any way change one's ability to file such a complaint against an educational professional who publicly expresses discomfort with LGBT people.

MYTH: That the merits of this complaint in ANY WAY hinge on Tuesday's vote (If there's no merit, there will be no merit even with marriage equality; vice versa if there is merit).

MYTH: That the majority of people who have responded to Mr. Mendell's political actions have AT ALL questioned his merits as a counselor, or denied him of any past decorations he may have received.

MYTH: That "yes on 1" is abstaining from trying to shut people down (Last time we checked, their entire campaign revolves around SHUTTING DOWN THE MARRIAGE EQUALITY THAT WAS ALREADY LEGALIZED IN THE STATE!)

MYTH: That anyone is speaking out against Mr. Mendell because they want to "punish" him (How fricking petty for Stand For Marriage Maine, the group who is trying to punish our lives and loves simply because we were born gay, to even suggest such a thing)!

MYTH: That this is a case of denying free speech in any way, shape, or form. (Nobody is telling Mr. Mendell that he has not right to speak out. But this doesn't mean that Americans have the freedom to speak in a vacuum! One's speech can and does garner push back. And also, one's speech can and does earn raised eyebrows from employers, constituents, students, parents, friends, loved ones, or just about anyone who has a dog in the hunt that the free speaker calls their existence).

MYTH: That the Alliance Defense Fund is a simple legal group (In reality, they are a very activist, very homo-hostile group who fights LGBT progress at every turn).

MYTH: That "yes" needs cash so that they can show voters "what's going on."

The TRUTH is that they KNOW this has nothing to do with the NO ON 1 campaign. They know that this has nothing to do with the debate around marriage itself (outside of Mr. Mendell's words against it). They know that turning this complaint into a public campaign tactic weakens the process itself, and they should know that it's even unfair to Mr. Mendell, who will now earn public opinion (neg. and pos.) on the basis of a complaint that has not been adjudicated in any way. But they have found something that they think they can manipulate, the way they've manipulated every last facet of their push to roll back equality!

Two days, folks. Two days.

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Your thoughts

How much will you bet that one of the lying liars made the complaint themselves, just so that they could get some free publicity about another non-issue?

Posted by: Dick Mills | Nov 1, 2009 5:46:40 PM

http://bit.ly/2COC3H (1/22)

http://bit.ly/3K36hZ (5/2)

Posted by: David Roberts | Nov 1, 2009 7:58:51 PM

I agree with Dick Mills and wouldn't put it past those fuckers.

Posted by: John Ozed | Nov 1, 2009 8:40:07 PM

David, I adore you! Thanks for the update links.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 1, 2009 9:27:18 PM

I would be very worried about the sort of advice that a L, G, B, or T teenager, or one with at least one L, G, B, or T parent, would get from this guidance counselor. I'm glad this complaint was filed. Thank you for the talking points.

Posted by: GreenEyedLilo | Nov 1, 2009 10:10:29 PM

I had a robo call from Bob Emrich about this, reminding me why it was so important to vote Yes. My first thought was, "Oh, good, I wouldn't want him in my kids' school."

Posted by: ColdCountry | Nov 1, 2009 10:18:58 PM


It is ironic that Marc Mutty writes this:

The message is unmistakable: It's fine to speak out if you support gay marriage, but if you speak out against it, they will punish you.

Since the Bishop has just given Pamella Belliveau the ax for writing an editorial in support of No on 1.

http://www.sunjournal.com/node/428730

L

Posted by: Leslie | Nov 2, 2009 10:13:11 AM

It never fails. In almost every ballot initiative, the religious right truncates current events and creates a new "martyr

Posted by: a. mcewen | Nov 2, 2009 12:20:35 PM

Does it matter that the "one sole person" (Ms. Sullivan) who filed the complaint against Mendell works for the husband of the woman (Ms. Gould) who appeared in the NO ad to which Mendell was responding? Seems there may be more to this.

Posted by: Davida Lavina | Nov 5, 2009 7:57:54 PM

Just to give some more info to this. Some other brave social workers were also appalled at the violation of ethics and have INDIVIDUALLY made their own complaints.
And the letter below is from the Maine Counseling Association to Mr. Mendell (taken from the internet where his supporters once again posted confidential information.) Mr. Mendell's release of the social work complaint contained confidential student comments. Those students have suffered because they dared to speak out and he made their comments public.
Page 1 of 1
Hello Mr. Mendell:
Please accept this email as it is intended - with professionalism and respect. Also, please know that our telephone calls and emails are sent with much sincerity while as colleagues, we realize that this is a difficult and complex dilemma. That being said, both executive boards of the Maine School Counseling Association and the Maine Counseling Association have labored over what appears to be ethical violations that were breached in terms of the advertisement that was aired on behalf of the Vote Yes on One campaign. More specifically, you were featured in an television advertisement and identified as a school counselor in support of voting yes on this issue. Therefore, it was decided through board votes to submit a disclaimer on our behalf to Mr. Braun, Mr. Shorey, the MPA, the MSMA, the Commissioner of Education and four of the larger newspapers in Maine. In the disclaimer, the ethical guidelines were outlined that were affected by this advertisement. Yesterday, both Bernadette Willette and President of MeCA and I tried unsuccessfully to talk to speak with you via telephone, further extending professional courtesies regarding letting you know of the actions that we would be taking today and giving you an opportunity to send your own message back to our boards. Please let us know if there is anything that you would like to convey to our boards or if you need anything else from us.
In the meantime, thank you for your time and best regards as fall starts making its turn towards winter.
Bernadette Willette David Klippert
President: MeCA President: MESCA

Posted by: S | Nov 11, 2009 5:15:40 PM

FACT: None of you have ever met Mr. Mendell.

Posted by: Bob Stevens | Dec 3, 2009 6:51:09 AM

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