Dr. Angela McCaskill is seeking compensation to return to her post at Gallaudet University after the school for the deaf’s president put her on administrative leave last week for signing a petition challenging Maryland’s same-sex marriage law at her church.
“I am dismayed that Gallaudet University is still a university of intolerance, a university that manages by intimidation, a university that allows bullying among faculty, staff and students,” Dr. McCaskill said at a press conference Tuesday, with the assistance of an interpreter. McCaskill added that she was not anti-gay, but rather “pro-democracy.”
“I thought it was important that as a citizen of the state of Maryland I could exercise my right to participate in the political process. I am pro-democracy.”
This summer, McCaskill and her husband signed a petition calling for Maryland’s same-sex marriage law to be put to a voter referendum. A fellow faculty member who had noticed McCaskill’s name on the petition confronted the Chief Diversity Officer then reported her to university president, T. Alan Hurwitz. After Dr. McCaskill refused to issue an apology, Hurwitz put her on administrative leave.
Hurwitz’s decision was subsequently criticized by both marriage equality opponents and proponents, though he attempted to clarify his position with a statement yesterday morning:
As many know, Dr. McCaskill exercised her right to sign a petition concerning legislation on gay marriage. Because of her position at Gallaudet as our Chief Diversity Officer, many individuals at our university were understandably concerned and confused by her action. They wanted to know ‘does that action interfere with her ability to perform her job?’
I placed her on paid administrative leave as a prudent action to allow the university — and Dr. McCaskill – the time to consider this question after the emotions of first reactions subsided. While this has become an issue beyond our campus, as President of Gallaudet University, my number one concern is our university community – our students, faculty and staff and so many others who support us. I act on their behalf, not with any agenda other than their well-being as all of us work to prepare these university students for the future. While I expect that a resolution of this matter can be reached that will enable Dr. McCaskill to continue as our Chief Diversity Officer, this will require that she and the University community work together to respond to the concerns that have been raised.
Hurwitz also emphasized Gallaudet’s desire to resolve this matter and return Dr. McCaskill to her post as Chief Diversity Office. But it might cost them. McCaskill’s attorney said that her return hinges on the university compensating her for the emotional distress she’s endured, as well as the damage to her reputation.
Dr. McCaskill has never publicly stated her stance on gay marriage and maintains that she supports all students, regardless of sexual orientation. During her 24 years at Gallaudet, McCaskill said she opened a campus resource center for sexual minorities, hired an openly transgender employee and hosted events centered on LGBT issues. A student at Gallaudet had previously called the CDO “a great ally to the LGBT community.”
Photo: Gallaudet University