Last Friday, a state licensing board in Maine dismissed two charges against a high school counselor which were made due to his appearance in a Fall 2009 TV ad in favor of Maine’s Question 1 – a proposition that secured the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
Donald Mendell, a licensed counselor at Nokomis Regional High School in Portland, Maine, was the subject of a complaint accusing him of violating the state’s code of ethics for social workers because of his expressed position on marriage.
“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 Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence, who helped defend Mendell.
“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 added. “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 Alliance Defense Fund explained on Monday that the complaints against Mendell were issued last year after the counselor was featured in a “Vote Yes on 1” TV ad. But both complaints failed to mention that the ad was a response to a “Vote No on 1” ad that also featured a staff member from Nokomis High. The complaints, says the ADF, made no mention of the teacher who made an appearance in the “No on 1” ad.
On April 9, the Maine Board of Social Work Licensure discussed the complaints and then voted 2-1 to dismiss them.