A series of new ads running against marriage equality in Maine are relying on the National Organization for Marriage’s self-victimization tactics, and they are misleading as ever.
In the first spot, Jim and Mary O’Reilly of the Wildflower Inn in Vermont claim, “A lesbian couple sued us for not supporting their gay wedding because of our Christian beliefs. We had to pay $30,000 and can no longer host any weddings at our inn.” Of course, this claim has nothing to do with the existence of marriage equality in Vermont, but with the state’s nondiscrimination laws. Vermont prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, and when the O’Reilly’s settled their suit with the lesbian couple, they admitted that they had broken the law. They very well could have paid more than $30,000 if they had gone to court instead of settling. The only reason they are no longer hosting any weddings at their inn is because they were so insistent on discriminating against same-sex couples that they voluntarily agreed that not offering weddings to anyone was the only way they could comply with the law. Here’s the new 30-second version of the ad:
In the second ad, Damian Goddard claims that he was fired as a Canadian sportscaster — yes, Canada — after he tweeted support for a sports agent who opposed marriage equality. Of course, Goddard leaves out a few important details. First of all, he had a whole spate of anti-gay tweets, not just one of agreement. Secondly, his employer, Sportsnet, made it clear that his tweets were only the final straw in a series of problems that led the network to conclude “he is not the right fit for our organization.” Lastly, Goddard was a freelance contractor, so he had no long-term contract to guarantee his continued employment in the first place. Since leaving Sportsnet, Goddard has become spokesman for NOM’s “Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance,” which exists solely to manufacture victim stories like his and the O’Reilly’s. Watch it:
The Anti-Defamation Alliance has a new story of its own, and it seems like its subject might get his own Maine ad as well. Don Mendell is a high school counselor and notorious anti-gay activist who in 2009 appeared in an ad against marriage equality falsely claiming that school students would be forced to learn about same-sex marriage. Because this presented a concern for his ability to counsel gay students, he was investigated by the state’s licensing board, but the complaint was ultimately dismissed and no lawsuit was filed. He was never actually subjected to “defamation,” merely held accountable for his exclusive beliefs. The NOM video, unsurprisingly, paints a different picture. Watch it: