Were These People Attacked for Their Positions on Marriage Equality?

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Nov 2, 2009

A Massachusetts man says that he lost his retail job for simply stating his religious views on same-sex marriage, while an anti-gay group supporting the repeal of marriage equality in Maine says that a man who works in Maine's school system has come under attack because of his religious beliefs regarding gay and lesbian families.

Anti-gay pundits have jumped on the claims as proof that gays intend to destroy traditional marriage and brutally silence any dissent from people of faith.

An Oct. 30 posting at the Web site of anti-gay group Mass Resistance said that Peter Vadala lost his job as second deputy manager at a retail store in Boston's Logan Airport after telling a fellow employee that he was religiously opposed to marriage equality for gay and lesbian families.

The posting indicated that last August the co-worker, a women who was engaged to be married to her female partner, repeatedly approached Vadala about her impending wedding. When Vadala expressed his beliefs to her, the woman told him that she was going to notify human resources, according to the posting.

Vadala later lost his job. The letter terminating Vadala accused him of harassment, the posting said, and cited another employee who claimed that Vadala had said gay unions were "deviant." Vadala denied this.

Read the MassResistance posting, "It would certainly appear that if there ever was a case of harassment (and retaliation) it is what happened to Peter, not anything Peter did!"

The posting went on to make assertions about the grand scheme that gays and lesbians have to persecute people of faith. "This is a chilling example of the ultimate consequences of imposing the concept of same-sex 'marriage' through force of law," declared the posting. "We've certainly seen it coming. What happened to Peter is actually what was intended by the homosexual movement. It's about making people accept what they normally would not accept and punishing those who resist. And when these laws are in place, they pursue it with as much force as they feel necessary."

Similar claims were made in an Oct. 30 posting at the Wen site for Christian legal group The Alliance Defense Fund, which describes itself as "a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith."

According to the Alliance Defense Fund posting, Donald Mendell, a counselor at a Maine high school, was reported to a state licensing board by a co-worker after he voiced his agreement with the anti-marriage equality campaign in that state that seeks to rescind a law granting marriage rights to gay and lesbian families.

The posting relates that Mendell had been in an ad encouraging voters to support the anti-gay ballot initiative. The ad had been made in response to a pro-marriage ad in which a teacher at the same high school appeared. The posting asserted that pro-equality advocates wish to punish those who disagree with them. "No one should have their livelihood placed in jeopardy because they believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman," the text quoted an Alliance Defense Fund attorney, Austin R. Nimocks.

Added Nimocks, "This threat to Don, his family, and his career makes clear that those in favor of redefining marriage also want to penalize and silence those who don't agree with them. So, the definition of marriage is not the only thing at issue here. Free speech, freedom of conscience, and religious liberty are also in danger."

Maine voters will decide the fate of the state's gay and lesbian families at the ballot box on Nov. 3.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


  • nothingpetty, 2009-11-02 13:34:56

    As a gay man, I must insist that we cannot deny the rights of any citizen, gay or straight, to voice their views on any topic. This is of course, subject to the rule about yelling fire in a crowded theatre. We cannot refuse others what we wish for ourselves.

  • fern , 2009-11-02 13:35:36

    just compare the figures of those religious people losing their jobs, or being beaten up with those being bashed in just because they look gay.

  • , 2009-11-02 13:38:44

    This guy is disgusting. He goes on in the video about how his boss kept bringing up the fact that she was engaged at work. Dude, seriously, if you were engaged (which you never would be because your a closeted gay homophobe) then wouldn’t YOU want to talk about it at work too?? People talk about their wedding plans all the time at work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it as long as there is no inappropriate sex-talk. What IS inappropriate, is for someone to tell a co-worker that they don’t APPROVE of the marriage. That is gross and disgusting and completely justifies this guy being fired. It has nothing to do with homosexuality. It has to do with him being a jerk and thinking that he can get away with telling a co-worker that he doesn’t approve of her choice in fiance just because that choice is the same gender. You can’t do that dude, even if its a homosexual couple. Get a life. For more reads on this topic and more, check out:

  • , 2009-11-02 13:56:39

    I don’t understand -- isn’t this exactly what the anti-gay groups want? No "special rights" for gays and lesbians -- i.e., no "special protections" based on one’s sexual orientation or beliefs? Therefore, if you want to fire someone for being gay, you should be able to do so -- no special protections. Likewise, if you want to fire someone for being straight, no special protections. I must say this about the anti-gays. They certainly do have the Midas touch on bigotry.

  • , 2009-11-02 15:13:11

    I don’t understand -- isn’t this exactly what the anti-gay groups want? No "special rights" for gays and lesbians -- i.e., no "special protections" based on one’s sexual orientation or beliefs? Therefore, if you want to fire someone for being gay, you should be able to do so -- no special protections. Likewise, if you want to fire someone for being straight, no special protections. I must say this about the anti-gays. They certainly do have the Midas touch on bigotry.

  • , 2009-11-02 15:43:40

    Have to agree w/nothing pretty. Just because people have lost their jobs for being gay - two wrongs don’t make a right. As long as someone isn’t ranting about the gays and handing out literature, I can’t see his being fire.

  • BB, 2009-11-02 19:11:44

    Among demagogues, such as Edge’s Killian Melloy, it would help to lower the temperature a bit by not calling every American who has questions about gay marriage, "anti-gay." By Melloy’s tightass definition, even Gore Vidal is anti-gay, as are many of us who are homosexual and who don’t believe our lives will end if we don’t get to be June brides.

  • , 2009-11-04 12:06:48

    If this happened as Vadala claims it did, and I have not reason to believe he would lie as I have not heard anything different from the other side,then what the heck did they fire him for? He has every right to put an end to a discussion he does not want to be part of. His termination was over kill and a step back for gay rights. If it happened the way he said, the manager should have left it alone. For the record, I am a gay male.

  • fern , 2009-11-04 16:26:18

    We’ve been had here this is propaganda. If I were a boss I think I should be able to hire anyone I want regardless. Once in Az I turned down a young girl (15) for a dish washing job, the fact was that I could barely handle the job myself, if I had been her father I would have said I’ll give you the $4.50/hour (minimum wages at the time in AZ) the guys in the restaurant told me that the company and I myself could be sued for turning her down I told them guys she could never do the job, and they said "so what? fuck her!". A good economy works with good willing and qualified workers. In other words would you like an unqualified surgeon to work on you when he got hired because he was black, gay or yellow? So the story may be true in parts and he stepped up the plate ’cause he was paid to do it. I’ve been walked out of a gay bar because I was talking to a woman and her girlfriend didn’t like it and was deemed dangerous, I haven’t gone back to this bar for two years now and I miss it, should I sue them on the basis that I’m hetero and that’s the reason I got thrown out???

  • , 2009-11-07 23:51:01

    When people bring up free speech, that simply means that the government cannot keep him from expressing his view. Bigots should be able to gather in the streets and rant as much as they want, but when you are on the job, you need to follow the rules. When a corporation needs is torn between allowing overtly political and religious speech like this man want s, and creating a workplace safe for LGBT’s, it correctly chose to keep it’s employees free of harassment. This clown has no just claims to violation of his 1st amendment right. If you want to be a bigot, find a bigoted company.

  • , 2011-02-03 22:39:51

    I kinda hate the double standard claims in all this. Since when was acknowledging your correlation with a group, or even mentioning your spouse, the same as attacking that group / person / spouse? Someone saying they are gay is not the same as someone saying they hate gays, or even want them killed (Leviticus). If there truly was a double standard, gays would be calling straight spouses perverts to their face, call for the denial of marriage and other rights, and not-so-subtly even their death ... but of course that’s not the case. Since when has anyone actually been fired JUST for their status as a Christian or heterosexual ... and not for their actions against fellow coworkers??? Doesn’t happen.

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