Maine firefighters in TV ad backing gay marriage

The 30-second spot came about due to a gay marriage measure on this year's ballot

By Deborah Mcdermott
Seacoast Online

YORK, Maine — Four volunteer firefighters from York, one of whom is gay, are appearing in a television ad being aired across the state in support of the marriage equality initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot.

And said at least two of the four, they are honored to do so.

"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."

But the three straight firefighters say it's simply not an issue. Says Humphrey at the end of the ad: "When we clear the call, I get to go home to my wife. The guys I work with should be able to marry the person they love."

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."

Shea, a volunteer with the York Village Fire Department since 2010 and a York resident, said he believes it's a matter of simple fairness.

"It is important to me that all of my brothers are afforded the same rights and freedoms that I have," he said. "Regardless of the gender of the person they love, they should be allowed to be happy and not judged for it."

Shea said the fact McTighe and Michel are gay is not an issue when everyone is on a call.

"They are our brothers and are there taking the same risks we are, to do the same job we are all there to do," he said.

Lorandeau said he and McTighe are good friends, "so I really didn't think about it. He had been very open telling us about his lifestyle. It's really no big deal."

On Nov. 6, Maine residents will vote on Question 1, whether they want to pass a law giving gays and lesbians the right to marry in the state. If it passes, Maine will be the first state in the nation in which gay marriage has been approved by voters. In all other states where it's legal, either state legislatures or courts have approved it.

Recent polling by the Portland Press Herald indicates 53 percent of voters are in favor, 43 percent opposed and 4 percent undecided.

McTighe said the firefighters' ad is "one more example of the way that Mainers all over the state, including less traditional messengers, are coming to support freedom to marry."

Republished with the permission from Seacoastonline

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