It was only a matter of time before the Yes on 1 people realized that using outsiders wasn't a good idea in Maine. But unfortunately, they didn't have to look far to find an anti-LGBT local willing to go on the air.
Jeremy Hooper at Good As You does a good job on reporting who Donald Mendell actually is, adding "Love how Mr. Mendell says 'this Maine teacher is a gay activist' (in reference to his co-worker at his very own school, by the way) as if he's a mere layman. It would seem that those who live in glass political ads shouldn't throw "activist" stones!"
Of the course the Yes on 1 used that line in rebuttal to us objecting to their use of Charla Bansley in their last ad, portraying her as a public school teacher - but she isn't and is a well-known anti-LGBT activist.
Also, thanks to Jeremy, the Robert Skutch interview referenced in this ad is available below in full:
*Source: Here & Now, 5/3/05
What chills me to the bone is the reference to the curriculum at the center of the Alameda Unified School District lawsuit happening here in California. I've been working on a longer piece regarding this case and how it's intertwined with the marriage battles here in the Golden State, but before I've been able to finish, Frank Schubert, the man behind Yes on Prop 8, has wasted no time inserting it into the Question 1 struggle as a reason to ban marriage equality in Maine. Illogical? Yes. Effective? Unfortunately, yes.
The lawsuit against the Alameda school system, filed in August by the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, was brought by parents who were denied the option of opting their children out of curriculum teaching about bullying, and this included bullying of LGBT students. However, the school said they couldn't opt out because the curriculum doesn't fall under the California Education Code provisions which allow for it. So the parents sued. Obviously, I think they're pawns in a bigger scheme. And that scheme is already playing out in Maine and will soon again here in California.
I really do hope the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign responds just as quickly as last time (they've been amazing at fast responses), but this time, not just call the ad baseless but actually point out the lies. Somehow, Yes on 1 has successfully linked the marriage equality issue to school curriculum and the effects on kids, a tactic we already knew they would use.
Despite the NO on 1 ads, the opposition is able to successfully stick to their message discipline while we keep repeating that "outsiders are harming our families." Yes on 1 easily fixed that by using a local to do their dirty deeds.
We have to avoid Yes on 1's trap of getting us to respond to what is happening in California. Sure, the curriculum they refer to has nothing to do with marriage equality, but it DOES have to do with the fact that LGBT people exist. It's a fact of life.
As I've said before, "We need to tell Mainers, 'You're going to hear that marriage is going to be taught in schools, but you have the power to decide that yourself in your districts. You're going to hear that your church is going to be sued, but you already have protections in place by law. The other side is going to try and confuse this issue, to state things that are not in the law. They want to mislead you. They will lie to you.
"'This is not about curriculum, not about religion. What this is about is civil marriage for all. It's about protecting families. It's about being fair.'"
If we do this, anything Yes on 1 says going further will be overshadowed by doubt.
The "outsiders" argument isn't going to work now. We have to play fire with fire. Call a lie a lie.