Mainers are preparing for a Battle Royale over gay marriage this coming election, and both sides are working overtime to blast their views on the air. Protect Marriage Maine, an anti-gay marriage group, has released their newest ad claiming that the legalization of gay marriage will result in people having their rights restricted and facing negative consequences for supporting traditional marriage. Don Mendell, the feature of this ad, claims that he was oppressed for expressing his views and that the state went after his license.
According to an article in CBS News, however, he was not convicted of his charges of violating ethics and got to keep his license. Also, he went far beyond expressing disagreement with the concept of gay marriage. He seems to have gone out of his way to demonize gay rights activists and has a major problem with any aspect or expression of homosexuality. If he simply opposed gay marriage, or disagreed with the gay community, and did so outside of his workplace, I doubt he would have seen this kind of backlash. As it is, he seems to have a serious prejudice against gays and people are right to be concerned that he cannot effectively counsel gay students. Plus, as others have pointed out, Maine does not allow gay marriage. At the time he experienced this, there were no gay marriages, so he cannot claim he was victimized by their performance.
I’m a staunch supporter of gay marriage, gay and straight domestic partnerships, and the general freedom to construct your family however you please. Those matters are not for government to decide. I’m also a staunch supporter of free speech rights. While I hate Mendell’s views and the manner in which he expressed them, and while in this case, people had reason to question whether Mendell could do his job, I don’t entirely approve of going after people in this manner for expressing their views, even if they are vile.
Regardless, the ad is misleading. I see claims like this all the time, and I’m just embarrassed for the people that promote them. Protecting and establishing rights for others is NOT an automatic threat to your rights, nor is it a threat to your right to disagree with new laws. The fact that not all proponents of marriage equality respect free speech is not a gay marriage issue, it’s a free speech issue.
I support laws against racial discrimination. I support free speech rights, even for racists. I do not agree with denying certain rights and privileges to racists for expressing their views in appropriate ways and in the right places. I feel that sometimes, people who AREN’T racist have been branded as such in order for their critics to gain political leverage, and I don’t agree with that either.
This does not make racial equality wrong, and it does not mean laws against racial discrimination should not exist. There is nothing in racial discrimination law, or in gay marriage law, that prohibits the expression of alternative views. So to claim that these laws will punish the status quo is silly and it’s derailing. Ultimately, what these people are really saying is that other people do not have the right to exist, to express their views, or to enjoy the same rights that others do.
And that’s just crap.
Don Mendell, I support your right to oppose gay marriage. I do not support your efforts to use your power against people you don’t like. I don’t support ads that are misleading and that are just plain silly.
Don Mendell, don’t be silly.