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A closer look at Donald Mendell, Stand For Marriage Maine's latest talking point

by Jeremy Hooper

Maine's "Yes on 1" campaign is using an anecdotal account from a local man by the name of Donald Mendell to supposedly "prove" that marriage equality has "everything to do with schools":

sfmmNothing to Do With Schools? Not So Fast.

The No on 1 campaign says Question 1 has nothing to do with schools. How do they explain posters like the one Donald Mendell saw in his child’s school, detailed in his letter to the editors of the Bangor Daily News? There is already an effort to promote a gay agenda in our schools, and it will only accelerate if Question 1 fails and homosexual marriage becomes legal in Maine.

Sex education?
The editorial “Same-Sex Among Us” (BDN, Sept. 18) accused those who oppose a law changing the definition of marriage of falsehoods and of “bringing children into the fray.” Having attended the April hearing in Augusta regarding the law, I witnessed many gay-marriage supporters bringing children up to the microphone, often holding them up to make their point. Only one of the opponents of gay marriage did that in the more than three hours I was there. A 7- or 8-year-old child was led to the microphone sobbing that people “wouldn’t let her auntie get married.”

Sex education is not the spearhead of the “homosexual marriage and behavior is equal to that of heterosexuality” message. It’s being done through the teachers who are forming clubs and organizing activities that purport to speak to harassment, but in fact are aggressively promoting an equality-of-behavior agenda with children in our schools. A club-approved poster, asking “When did you decide that you were straight?” has been placed, for the past two years, in our school hallway less than 50 feet from the main entrance. Try to read the words “When did you decide that you were straight” as might 13-year-old ninth-graders their first day of high school.

Objections that these efforts are not in keeping with this stage of development have not been heard. A yes vote on Question 1 can make your voice heard; a no vote will give those who use children’s trusting nature to turn them against the natural law written in all people the power to silence the rest of us.
Donald Mendell

This letter to the editor originally appeared in
the Bangor Daily News.
Nothing to do with schools? Not So Fast. [SFMM]

Okay, first off: The situation that Mr. Mendell is describing took place without marriage equality. It was a pro-tolerance project started by the school's three-year-old Gay-Straight Alliance. So to use it to discredit the merits of marriage equality is just plain absurd. Mr. Mendell's point of contention here does not revolve around the current legislation -- it revolves around acceptance in general! And that is not going to be rolled back, even in the highly unlikely event that the "yes on 1" campaign should succeed.

But that out of the way, let's move on to a conveniently overlooked point that makes this matter much more concerning than originally thought. That point: That Donald Mendell is not just a layman who has a kid in this high school, like "Yes on 1" makes it sound. Instead, Donald Mendell is actually a GUIDANCE COUNSELOR/SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER at Newport/Maine's Nokomis High School! Yes, that's right -- he's a public school employee who has a responsibility to look after the welfare of ALL children. One would also think that he has a responsibility to handle whatever internal gruff he might have with his place of employment in a private, off-record manner (esp. in a role like guidance counseling, which revolves around trust). But instead, he has let his feelings known in an extremely public way. And not just this one time either. There's also this 5/2 letter in which he warns "thinking folks" of the "age-old ruse" of comparing homosexuality to race. There's also this 1/22 letter warning of the "myriad of ramifications" that will supposedly accompany marriage equality. Then there's this 1/4 web comment in which he intimates that marriage for gay couples will "ridicule tradition and belief in natural law." And in perhaps his most hostile missive, he used a 12/01/08 letter go after "a change that strikes to the heart of the Sacraments," denying that same-sex marriage is something that "our Lord would support." His engagement against our engagements has been going on for some time (with a really unfortunate ring attached to it).

Now, to be fair and transparent: Don's colleague at Nokomis Regional High, Sherri Gould, has also injected herself in the marriage debate, taking part in a "No on 1" campaign ad. But let's not pretend like there's no difference between appearing on TV to talk about "respect and Maine values (the message that Ms. Gould chose to convey) and appearing in public newspapers to attack gay "normalcy" (which is essentially what Mr. Mendell has chosen to do). Ms. Gould's comments should not make anyone, from the most out and proud gay kid to the most faith-entrenched Christian student, in any way wary of visiting her office. But we really can't say the same about Mr. Mendell's words! Plus, "No on 1" fully identified Ms. Gould as a public school employee. "Yes on 1," on the other hand, has positioned Mr. Mendell as a mere parent of a local kid. That failure to accurately disclose should raise anyone's eyebrows.

We fully support Mr. Mendell's right to engage in any way he sees fit. But at the same time, we as gay people who are deeply concerned about equality, rights, and the separation of church and state, have no choice but to push back against this kind of thing.

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Your thoughts

How DARE that school say its okay to be gay! Next they'll be telling kids, against all natural law, that racemixing is alright!

Oh wait, I forgot. Even though that second half uses the exact same argument the bigots will deny they are in any way similar.

Posted by: penguinsaur | Oct 1, 2009 11:41:20 AM

Don Mendell is clearly identified as a public school counselor from Palmyra. Your posting is incorrect. I'm glad he had the guts to do it. You obviously are not a supporter of free speech.

Posted by: Joe Sanman | Oct 6, 2009 9:01:56 PM

Huh? Joe, your comment makes mo sense in relation to this post. This post was written last week, before the new ad was released. And no, at that time Yes on One did not identify mr. Mendell.

If you want to see our post about the ad, refresh the page. It was written today (10/6).

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 6, 2009 9:20:20 PM

As for the non sequitir about free speech: that is both laughable and ironic. Laughable, considering this site is a completely open forum, always links to source material (even from opposition), and gives every last member of our opposition the opportunity to share their own thoughts. And ironic, considering we are talking about Yes on 1, one of the least transparent, most deceptive campaigns in recent memory!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 6, 2009 9:25:41 PM

I agree that Joe's comment about free speech is ironic. There is a difference between expressing an opinion on an issue and actively trying to deny somebody their basic rights. I think by virtue of his profession Mr. Mendell should not have injected himself into the debate: I am sure seeing him on TV isn't very reassuring to his students who are guy.

Posted by: Alexandra | Oct 8, 2009 12:37:12 PM

It is a dangerous place for a social worker to go when making negative comments or references to certain groups. It gives freedom to those who already look badly on these groups to say,"see, I knew they were bad" and to take negative action toward individuals from that group. Personal beliefs aside, a social worker should never, ever degrade a group in public.

Posted by: Ann | Oct 9, 2009 6:47:15 PM

I do not believe most of you actually know what you are talking about. To have an opinion is what makes America great, and who better to have an opinion and to speak about it than someone who actually deals with people and these children everyday. This man does not damn these kids who are gay, he embraces them. But when he injects his editorials into newspapers, that is in fact his right to free speech. He is also a man. To not let one speak (especially one who is qualified to speak with years of experience in the field of sociology) that is in fact denying him the first amendment. I think what is so troubling for some of you is the fact that he is qualified to make these assurtions, more so than most of you. Maybe if you actually knew these people you bash for having opinions, you might be able to understand what they are talking about, instead of just calling anyone who disagrees with you ignorant. By the way, that is truly ignorant....

Posted by: Bob Stevens | Oct 12, 2009 12:38:12 PM

So, Alexandra, what professions should not be allowed to express an opinion?

Posted by: rufus springer | Oct 12, 2009 8:53:25 PM

Response to Bob Stevens' post:

I don’t think anybody who posted their opinions here called Mr. Mendell ignorant or denied him the right to free speech. I have no problem with people expressing their opinions. I agree this is a great American value. What I cannot wrap my head around is how one can “embrace” something and at the time appear in a TV ad that suggests that this “something” doesn’t have the right to exist. I don’t think that a teacher (or guidance counselor) can wear two hats: you either accept homosexuality of your students or you don’t, you either bring the message of tolerance with you in the classroom or that of divisiveness. (Of course, there is always the third option – to be neutral, not to express any opinions at all - but I really think it is more important to teach students tolerance and understanding, which is different from imposing somebody's opinions)

I worked in a public school system for 5 years. I had at least one student who openly, bravely, admitted to us that he was gay. I cannot imagine being a teacher without being this student’s advocate, too. To me as an educator, coming to the spotlight and saying that “homosexual marriage” is a threat would be inconceivable.

Posted by: Alexandra | Oct 12, 2009 10:33:51 PM

Alexandria, you are wrong. People who have posted on here have denied him the right to free speech, including yourself. Quoted from your post " I think by virtue of his profession Mr. Mendell should not have injected himself into the debate".

"One would also think that he has a responsibility to handle whatever internal gruff he might have with his place of employment in a private, off-record manner ." -from your article GAY

So both A-he should not be part of this but stay home on the sidelines and B- he can say something but in the privacy of his own home??????

So you are saying that Mr. Mendel should be denied his first amendment right? So in essence your saying a public school social worker who has thirty plus years of in-depth study in behavioral science should not speak for the Yes Side.. Wouldn't that be the same as taking the homosexuals from the No side?

As for Ann's post. I will not hold it against you, we all have idiots on whatever side of the fight....

I am not on either side of this question, I just don't think the No On One's are playing fairly either.....

Posted by: Bob Stevens | Oct 13, 2009 2:12:59 AM

I think the posters are way too emotional, so much so that they actually think that anyone with concerns about same sex marriage is homophobic. What does that word mean anyway? That you're afraid of men? I know Don Mendell very well...he's not any of the things that the knee jerk reactionaries would like to paint him. There isn't one kid at Nokomis who would be afraid to trust him as a counselor and teacher...he is a friend to all of them. If you want to discuss the issue, stick to what you know, not just what you ASSUME.

Posted by: Greta Sproul | Oct 14, 2009 8:21:17 AM

Ms. Sproul: While "homophobic" is a word that has clearly been defined in society to mean one certain thing, I would actually be sympathetic to your discomfort with the word. We almost never use it here at G-A-Y, because oftentimes there are other words that more accurately represent a situation. Like heterosexist, for instance. So on that note, I'd be willing to go on a journey with you.

But that being said: It's grossly unfair to paint anyone as a "knee jerk reactionary," or to act as if we are making unfair assumptions about Mr. Mendell. The bottom line is that he has written these editorials, and now appeared in a TV spot for the "yes" campaign. For many of us in the LGBT community, those actions are hostile. And to be quite honest, if my husband and I had a kid in Nokomis, we would be VERY nervous about the kind of guidance he would provide to our son or daughter. How could we not?! He is on the air telling anyone who will listen that our legal, civil marriage is wrong! Sorry, but that's not the message I want to send to my loved ones, especially my children. So it's a little unfair for your to act as if you speak for all of the children and parents at Nokomis. It's just illogical.

You accuse us of making assumptions and tell us to stick to the issue, yet YOU are the one talking about Donald's character as a human being. NOBODY HAS QUESTIONED THAT! I'm sure he's a lovely man. But what we are talking about here are Mr. Mendell's choice to enter this so-called "culture war" in a major way. Responding to these actions does not make us "reactionary" -- it makes us protective of our own lives and loves!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 14, 2009 8:39:53 AM

Rufus, anybody can express their opinions. The question is not whether or not we can. Of course, we can. The question is how our opinion affects people we represent, people we work for or work with. I think that it is impossible to reconcile these two opposing ideas: accepting all people for what they are and at the same time denying some of them the right to marry. Publicly saying that “homosexual marriage” threatens our schools is a very loaded statement that is going to affect a lot of students.

Posted by: Alexandra | Oct 15, 2009 8:07:54 PM

How dare you critize Mr Mendell's ability to counsel students? Have you spoke with any of them? He has been a counselor at Nokomis for over 20 years, and undoubtedly, counseled homosexual youth, or questioning youth.....you have no knowledge of his work, yet you judge his ability? Shame on you. the nameless faceless blog entries here from G-A-Y..who is transparent? where is the money coming from to support no on one? All from Maine? I dont think so! And you are questionning his character about counseling, maybe you should re-read your posts. He entered this so called "culture war" based on years of experience helping to pick up the pieces of shattered children with numerous problems...do you ever stop to think that YOUR message is not one I would want my children to hear? Seems like those who beg for tolerance are the least tolerant! He is not saying anything about homosexuals (sorry, I dont use the "GBTQ" labels, I am calling it what it is)...he is defending the position of marriage between a man and a woman.

Posted by: rufus springer | Oct 15, 2009 10:10:11 PM

Oh shocker -- someone from the "yes" side is misrepresenting. How surprising.

Rufus: (a) Nobody is calling ton question mr. Mendell's ability to counsel. Not even a little bit. we are calling into question his public activities on this matter, and how that could affect the public school kids who happen to be gay, or who have gay loved ones. And that point stands. He, a public school official, has chosen to come out as hostile to the civil liberties of LGBT Americans. That will concern many parents/students who enter Nokomis form this point forward,

(b) I, jeremy Hooper, the writer of this site, am FAR from anonymous. I have been featured a several national television and radio programs, have been in numerous print publications, have done several web videos as myself, and everyone in the LGBT world (and anti-LGBT world, for that matter) knows who I am. No hiding here. Good As You is the site name. jeremy is my name. If you want to chat further, my email is [email protected], My AIM is "IMGood As You," my twitter is @goodasyou, and my Facebook is http://www.facebook.com/jeremyshooper. I'll stop short of giving you my phone number, as I think I've been transparent enough already.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 15, 2009 10:24:54 PM

Incorrect sir (or are you the madam???) It is so confusing now adays!!!
You have called the gentleman's ability to council into question. Your tactics to force feed this crap down people's throats and than say "no no I did not say that" is so weak. This website is not up for a healthy debate but is just another example of the gay communities slander on anyone who is no ACCEPTING to their LIFESTYLE.
You have been transparent the whole time with your bigotry against Heterosexuals... Shame on you Good As You!

Posted by: Roy Silo | Oct 16, 2009 4:23:43 AM

Your comment does not even merit a response, Roy Silo. It wouldn't matter anyway. Your side simply wants to tell us what we are rather than listen to what we actually say.

So go for it. Do your thing. People are catching on.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 16, 2009 7:24:28 AM

It is always very disappointing (and frankly strange) to see people who accuse others of intolerance and use “shame on you” comments throughout their entries – that these people would demand a “healthy debate”. There isn’t one comment from the supporters of Marriage Equality on this blog that was disrespectful to those who oppose it, including Mr. Mendell. While I extremely disagree with his position as a public school official (and his position in general – I am still trying to figure out how you “teach homosexual marriage” and how you “push it on our schools”), I never called him a “bigot,” “ignorant,” “shameless,” “idiot” or another offensive word so loosely used by some of you on this site, opponents. Nor do I recall the author of the site ever doing that, being disrespectful to any of you.
So all I feel like saying is: if you want to have a healthy debate about it, let us have a healthy debate. But don’t demonize us supporters of equality using vulgar and false statements.

Posted by: Alexandra | Oct 16, 2009 5:16:10 PM

Alexandra: Very well stated.

This site has been in operation for almost five years now. In that time, I have NEVER written anyone off as a "bigot." Even folks who work for my opposition will tell you that. Yet despite this reality, anti-LGBT rights people who know absolutely nothing about this site come on here on a regular basis and immediately accuse me of being militant, angry, intolerant, or any of the other myriad of labels that the opposition throws at us. Half the time I don't think they even actually read the post, they simply pretend to know my heart and mind by virtue of my sexuality. It's extremely annoying.

And I have to say: The "Yes on 1" supporters have been the worst I have ever experienced. On here, on F'book, on Twitter, on other blogs -- the discourse have been very different and VERY frustrating.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 16, 2009 5:23:59 PM

"Nokomis Principal Mary Nadeau said Gould’s and Mendell’s activism hasn’t caused any difficulties at the school and won’t as long as they continue speaking for themselves and not for Nokomis."
“It was a good lesson for staff and students about the civic right that people have to express their opinions,” she said. “It’s their right to have an opinion but it can be separate from our work and our learning environment.”

BDN 10/15

Posted by: Bob Stevens | Oct 17, 2009 5:52:50 PM

But see Bob, this is still point-missing on your part. It's not so much about Mr. Mendell's activism causing them professional harm in terms of administrative retribution. We would never call for that. At all.

The issue is that for us as LGBT people, the fact that this man has gone public with what is, undeniably, hostility for our lives and loves. For us as LGBT people, we would have a tough time trusting his guidance when it comes to our loves ones.

And it's not fair to directly compare his actions with Ms. Gould's. Just because the campaign is the same, the motivation, agenda, and goals are polar opposites. In Ms. Gould's vision, ALL students -- ALL STUDENTS! -- are protected. In Mr. Mendells', gay kids, children of gay parents, etc., are all made vulnerable.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 17, 2009 8:14:09 PM

Well, I guess since you only know the man by his online chatter and a 30 second ad on the tele, I would think it is hard for you to make those assumptions that you closed with. That is the problem with these websites and this online activism. Before this came up, have you ever heard about Mr. Mendell and his work? 35 years of being in the trenches helping people out people, black, white, straight gay, tall and short. Do you think he cordons off his office to only straight children?
I guess before you send your children or loved ones anywhere, you would want to know who the man/woman really is before writing him off. Just because he does not agree with these lifestyles does not mean he does not care about the people who come to him in need of help. I think the whole world for him has been turned upside down, going from trying to and helping anyone and everyone to being demonized for being passionate about something he truly believes in. Also, I think the LGBT needs to be tolerant of people who do not share the same views as them, however hard it is for you to understand that some people do not want this type of lifestyle to be normalized.... I understand, especially for you that this is a very difficult concept because that is all you know...

Posted by: Bob Stevens | Oct 18, 2009 2:21:41 PM

Bob: It's hysterical to me that you keep talking about assumption, when virtually every claim you have made about us is based on you assuming that you know our hearts and minds without actually processing what we are saying to you.

For the last time: No one has questioned Mr. Mendell as a person. No on has questioned his heart. No one has questioned his training. So it's just dumb to say things like "Do you think he cordons off his office to only straight children?" No one has said anything like that!

You clearly have some sort of vested interest in defending Mr. Mendell. i get that. If he's your friend, relative, or even you yourself, then I understand why you want to defend this man's character. But this and every post we have written about Donald Mendell is about his public actions in regard to LGBT rights. He chose to become a public personality on these issues, just like we chose to publicly defend LGBT people against the unfortunately short-sighted hostility that is still directed toward this community (i.e. the idea that gay people have a "lifestyle" that they want "normalized"). And everything we have said still sands. Regardless of how great a guy or trained a professional he is (and again, we don't doubt this), his public words and actions are enough to make any LGBT person or supportive ally concerned when it comes to how he would handle our kids, our loved ones, or our selves.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 18, 2009 2:38:00 PM

It’s hard to be gay, or even suspected of being gay, when you’re a teenager and in high school. Kids are mean, especially if you’re different. Teachers and administrators aren’t always any nicer or more informed. I remember the vice principal telling us that we shouldn’t swim in a pool if we suspected someone had AIDS, because we could catch it if we swam after them. When I was a student at Nokomis, a couple friends of mine who weren’t straight eventually dropped out because of the way students and teachers treated them. I remember being told if someone was being bullied and harassed, then that person should talk to the guidance counselor.

If I was a gay kid at Nokomis now, I really don’t think I’d feel too comfortable talking to the current guidance councilor, Mr. Mendel, following his appearance in a Yes on 1 ad. It must be reassuring for kids who get harassed for being gay to know their guidance councilor is a voice for the campaign to make sure gay marriage isn’t allowed in Maine. I respect his right to publicly voice his beliefs, but I hope he realizes that this sends a message to the kids he’s supposed to be helping. The messages I hear coming from Yes on 1 spokespeople is that if you’re gay, you shouldn’t have the same rights as a straight person. And why shouldn’t you have the same rights? Because their interpretation of the Bible says you’re bad.

Kids absorb these messages, and use them to justify taking out their anger on kids they suspect of being gay. And we wonder why young people are leaving Maine. Maine has history of live and let live, you don't encroach on my life, i won't bother you. Two people getting married may offend some people's sensibilities, but people got offended when people of different races were allowed to marry, and claimed the Bible forbade that too. I see far more kids harmed by the hatred being spread toward anyone who might be gay than by allowing two people who love each other to get married.

Posted by: hillary Lister | Oct 27, 2009 11:01:52 AM

"The bottom line is that he has written these editorials, and now appeared in a TV spot for the "yes" campaign. For many of us in the LGBT community, those actions are hostile."

I am for TABOR. Couldn't you use the same argument who writes a anti-TABOR editorial and the people in anti-TABOR commercials are hostile to me? And vise-versa if I write a pro-TABOR editorial.

Double talk: 'We're all for free speech except when you offend my group.'

I remember hearing the Gay Marriage debate online. I ended the day being more sympathetic to the Equal marriage cause. The people that testified before the committee sounded reasonable and made a good case. I was ready to vote to uphold this new law.

Then when the repeal campaign started I got emails from Equality Maine criticizing Stand for Marriage for getting their money from out of state (go on line and look at all of Equality Maine's out-of-state contributions), they ran ads saying that the Stand for Marriage campaign was actually attempting to "harm" kids, and then I see someone having their social worker/guidance counselor license investigated because of their public stance on a political issue.

These people (not the average Gay or Straight person who's sympethetic to cause, but the nut job activists that seem to rise to the top of the movement) have made me stand back and reconsider.

Posted by: MMAN | Oct 30, 2009 7:29:00 AM

Good As You, you should be happy that Mr. Mendell is now being investigated for opposing your side. So this is what is going to happen when the No on One's win?

Once again, tell me how this has nothing to do with his first amendement right. You laugh at my assumptions?

I do not know you, you could be a great guy; but you do not see me writing smearing articles about you and your lopsided website. Some people have things to do.

Posted by: Bob Stevens | Oct 31, 2009 12:58:49 AM

The harassment of those who exercise their right to freedom of speech has begun.

Mr. Mendell expressed his honest opinion in a completely ethical fashion. Now he is being investigated and may be at risk for losing his job.

The LGBT community are all for free speech. Oh wait....unless of course you have a different opinion than they do. Then you need to sit down and shut up.

Before you think of Mr. Mendell as a "bigot" or as "prejudiced", take a hard look at yourself. Mr. Mendell has every right to express his opinion, publicly or otherwise.

“In a democracy that is free and robust, an opinion is no more disqualified for being ‘religious’ than for being atheistic, or psychoanalytic, or Marxist, or just plain dumb.” Richard John Neuhaus

Posted by: Jake Ricks | Oct 31, 2009 2:18:25 PM

"A Much Closer Look at Donald Mendell; Looking Past an Agenda"

Meet Don Mendell
In 2005, Don Mendell was a recipient of the State of Maine Department of Education Commissioner's Recognition Award. It was the second time Don was given this award. (I believe is the only educator to have twice received it.) Here is what was said at the ceremony:

"We are pleased to recognize Donald Mendell as a recipient of the 2005 Commissioner's Recognition Award. Don is the senior of two social workers at Nokomis, charged with a variety of duties including such things as liaison for the homeless, screener for Alternative Education Job Corps promoter, crisis counselor, and a member of PET's. He is also the host of the "Breakfast Club" which is a hang-out for disenfranchised kids who connect with each other through rock music. He is member of the athletic eligibility committee, which adjudicates requests for exceptions to the eligibility rules, and a SAT founding member, to name just a few."
"Don makes things happen. He advocates. He counsels. He calms. He chases kids down. He hosts the kids. He creates a small haven in his room for those kids who would otherwise have no real connection with adults in the school. Ultimately, that is the strongest drop-out prevention strategy one can offer. He connects with those kids who throw every barrier your way, because he refused to accept that the kid cannot be reached. "
"Kids trust him. Not because he is their buddy, but because he genuinely cares about them, leads them toward personal growth, and he calls it like it is. He reaches across those lines of mistrust that separate so many cliques of teenagers. When a school-phobic kid needs to be brought to school, Don goes to the house to coax him or her."
"Our community is lucky to have a man of such skill and dedication working in our school on behalf of the lost and lonely."

But because he choses to stand by what he belives in, the Pro-Whatever they want to be called now Community will target him, and any other professional who date say what they believe.
I take your silence GAY as maybe you are reconsidering what was said earlier. Probably not however, you'll just give another tangetal arguement. So, have you ever even been to Maine, since all these people speak aboout Maine Values have never been there.

Posted by: Bob Stevens | Nov 1, 2009 2:06:55 AM

Bob: You clearly have some sort of a dog in this hunt other than as just a mere "yes" supporter. And while I've already wasted many words that you will never hear, I'll take the time to waste a very few more (so as to hopefully quell your assumptions in your 2:06 comment that I'm avoiding you, even though I, as with the 'some people' you reference in your 12:58 comment, do have things to do on this Sunday morning).

All people have the right to file complaints. I never would've done so in this case. I can honestly say that 85% or more of my readership never would've done so. But someone did. One person -- not the entire campaign or the entire LGBT population. ONE SOLITARY PERSON!!

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 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.

The irony here is that 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. I've been conversing with that dept. for the past few days. The bottom line is that they don't want to confuse people into thinking that a complaint = merit, or to garner press on the basis of a simple complaint. But Mr. Mendell and "yes on 1" have chosen to take this public as part of their campaign. Otherwise this complaint would have remained between Mr. Mendell and the Dept.

Personally, if a frivolous complaint of this nature were filed against me, I would laugh it off, then focus my efforts on refuting what I saw as the flawed facts. But Mr. Mendell has gone another route. He has chosen to put it out there for all to debate, pick apart, comment on, etc. This actually hampers the process, and leads to all kinds of misinformation/assumption. Honestly, it was a really bad move (IMHO)!

Bob, you are hellbent on turning this into a 1st amendment issue, and acting as if this site wants to deny others of their own. Nothing could be more laughable. Unlike anything operated by "yes on 1," this site allows for any and everyone to share their thoughts (thus the reason why you are free to comment here, even though our comments are banned from every forum having to do with the "yes" side). This site also supports the right to unpopular speech, routinely coming out in favor of groups like Westboro Baptist and their right to discriminate.

You also want to turn this is into a referendum of Mr. Mendell's abilities, even though this site has stated several times that this has NOTHING to do with his merits as an educational professional. Not only do I not doubt those merits -- I think based on his credentials that the opposite is likely true. The issue is the concerns that his public writings and public appearances with "yes" raise for LGBT families and LGBT schoolchildren. Some of his writings, in particular, are quite hostile to LGBT people. How can we not be concerned about them? We are human beings. There is simply no way that we can NOT have concerns based on what he has chosen to say about us. This is especially true for parents who have kids in Nokomis, and LGBT support in their hearts.

The most frustrating thing about the "yes on 1" campaign is the aggressive refusal to listen to what our side actually says, or to address the actual matters at hand. While all of these kinds of campaigns can be frustrating, this mentality has been ratcheted up to a new degree in Maine, weakening the discourse since the beginning. So I implore you: Don't add to that. I know you disagree with my views, but please stop talking around them. And please stop putting words in my mouth. I'm not combatting you with unfairness or "lopsided" information (even if I am injecting my own views). I'm accurately assessing the situation, based on (a) my experience as someone who has covered this campaign with a fine tooth comb, and (b) my life as an actual, living, breathing LGBT person.

If you want to sit down and talk any of this over, please don't hesitate to drop me a line. I'll gladly meet you anywhere in the Portland area.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 1, 2009 8:13:04 AM

I am getting a little tired of hearing the “free speech argument” from the opposing side over and over again. You obviously didn’t read the G-A-Y articles or those of the supporting side. No statement from us was hostile, “smearing,” or “prejudiced.” I challenge you to find one on this blog. And nobody is encroaching on your first amendment right. The first amendment was created to protect regular people from the government. So my disagreement with you has nothing to do with the freedom of speech. A complaint of a private citizen against “promoting discrimination” has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Of course, he has the right to say whatever he wants, and we have the right to disagree with him on a personal or, like that guidance counselor who filed a complaint, on a legal level.

Playing victim is certainly very convenient, especially days before the election. But Don Mendell is under the investigation not for simply expressing his views. Maybe, it has to do with the falseness of his claim that “homosexual marriage will be pushed on our schools.” Maybe, it has to do with bringing the divisiveness into an institution that is supposed to safe and accepting. But most likely, it has to do with the fact that by appearing in this campaign on the Yes side Don Mendell failed to serve ALL the students he is working for. The National Association of Social Workers, which Mr. Mendell is a part of, clearly states that they "should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination" on the basis of several factors, including "sexual orientation." And that is at the heart of the complaint.

And one more thing. I personally was a little bothered while reading a BDN article that Bob referenced in his previous posts. In this article Don Mendell says that he has seen “the stress having homosexual parents can cause for adolescents.” It doesn’t sound like a competent and valid assessment, especially coming from somebody who has worked as a counselor for 37 years. (I know, I know, how dare I doubt his competency!) I know some children who come from same-sex relationships, and none of them can be described as “stressed” as a result of having gay parents. Later in the same article Don Mendell calls having gay parents “hardships” and that “to have those hardships codified into law is wrong.” So rather than looking for productive ways of making everybody safe and comfortable, rather than addressing the seriousness of the so-called “hardship”, he prefers to deal with it in a very reactive way, which is not beneficial to emotional wellbeing of ALL students. His comments just don’t make any sense to me.

Posted by: Alexandra | Nov 1, 2009 9:43:07 AM

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