Four York, Maine volunteer firefighters have taken a very public stand on the state’s marriage equality initiative. The firefighters appear in a 30-second TV spot supporting the initiative and a fellow firefighter who is gay.
Firefighters taking part in political ads is nothing new. We’ve seen it at all levels, from a small volunteer department supporting a local sheriff to the IAFF involved in ads for candidates for president. Firefighters have also starred in ads on controversial ballot initiatives like the recent fights over collective bargaining and pension issues. Is there any difference between those examples and this ad?
Also, look at this in the light of recent crack downs by some fire departments over what a firefighter can or can’t say via social media. Is it okay for a firefighter to take a political stand that some may not like in a TV ad but not on Facebook? Just some questions to think about as you read and watch this story.
“It was just a no-brainer,” said Dave Lorandeau, a 22-year-old volunteer at the York Village Fire Department. “It’s just we’re a family, and if someone needs you, you’re there for them.”
Lorandeau was joined in the ad by York volunteer firefighters Andrew Shea, Eric Humphrey and Ryan Michel, who is gay and an emergency medical technician. He is also a volunteer firefighter in York.
In the 30-second spot, Michel said he “wondered how a brotherhood so tight like that would be accepting of someone who is gay.”
The ad came about due to a fifth York volunteer firefighter, Matt McTighe, who is gay and is the campaign director of Mainers United for Marriage, which worked to get the gay marriage measure on the ballot.
“When these guys heard I was doing this campaign, they said, ‘Is there anything we can do to be more supportive?'” McTighe said. “They wanted to have my back, the same way I would if they called me any time of the day or night.”
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