Tuesday April 13, 2010

Complaints Dismissed against Maine Counselor for Supporting True Marriage

AUGUSTA, Maine, April 13, 2010 ( – A state licensing board in Maine Friday dismissed two complaints filed against public school counselor Don Mendell for publicly supporting marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The complaints claimed that Mendell, a licensed counselor at Nokomis Regional High School, violated the professional code of ethics for social workers by appearing in a television ad in the fall of 2009 that urged Maine voters to approve Ballot Question 1. In November, voters approved Question 1, which re-established Maine’s legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Mendell was represented by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF).

“The government should not punish people because they believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and because they say so during a political campaign,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “The licensing board was right to dismiss these complaints. The First Amendment protects the rights of citizens to speak out on important public policy matters being voted on by the people.”

“State governments around our nation license many professions, including, doctors, pipe fitters, beauticians, real estate agents, and many others,” Lorence explained. “The state rules governing licensed professionals should not be twisted to punish those who publicly advocate for marriage as one man and one woman.”

The first of the two complaints was filed in October 2009. Both complaints cited Mendell’s appearance in a “Vote Yes on One” television ad that encouraged citizens to vote in favor of Question 1.

The complaint failed to mention that the ad was created in response to a “Vote No on One” ad that featured a Nokomis teacher encouraging a “no” vote on Question 1 from a classroom at the high school itself. The complaint was not critical of that ad or the teacher featured in it.

The Maine Board of Social Work Licensure discussed the complaints before voting 2-1 to dismiss them.