Gallaudet University Suspends Diversity Officer For Signing Petition To Overturn Marriage Equality

Gallaudet University Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Angela McCaskill was put on administrative leave after it was discovered she signed a petition supporting the reversal of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

In a ironic turn, both Marylanders for Marriage Equality and the Maryland Marriage Alliance have criticized the university’s decision.

Planet DeafQueer reported on Monday that McCaskill signed the petition in church after her preacher delivered a sermon against gay marriage. She had apparently signed it after her husband pointed to it without thinking.

Last week an official complaint was filed by a fellow faculty member who had noticed McCaskill’s name on the petition.

“It recently came to my attention that Dr. McCaskill has participated in a legislative initiative that some feel is inappropriate for an individual serving as Chief Diversity Officer; however, other individuals feel differently,” Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz said in a statement. “I will use the extended time while she is on administrative leave to determine the appropriate next steps taking into consideration the duties of this position at the university. In the meantime an interim Chief Diversity Officer will be announced in the near future.”

Marylanders for Marriage Equality then came to McCaskill’s defense. “We strongly disagree with the decision to put the chief diversity officer on leave and hope she is reinstated immediately,” campaign manager Josh Levin said in a statement. “Everyone is entitled to free speech and to their own opinion about Question 6, which is about treating everyone fairly and equally under the law.”

Maryland Marriage Alliance Chief Derek McCoy echoed Levin’s sentiments. “I join an ever-growing number of Marylanders in expressing my complete dismay over Gallaudet University’s decision to place Dr. Angela McCaskill on administrative leave for signing the marriage referendum petition.”

McCaskill became the first Chief Diversity Officer at the school for the deaf last year and, according to at least one student, has been “a great ally to the LGBT community and supported many of the LGBTQA Resource Center’s programs.”

Some are calling for McaCaskill’s resignation, though she is expected to make an official apology.

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  • MikeE

    If she is unable to “promote diversity” and live by those ideals, then she should resign. Period.
    There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

    An “apology” from her is entirely pointless.
    A resignation is in order.

  • DuMaurier

    Unless her views are actually affecting her job in a measurable and concrete way, signing this petition should not put Dr. McCaskill’s job in jeopardy. I know we’d all like marriage equality to be settled and done with across the country, but the fact is at the moment it is an open issue and on the ballot in her state. Do we really want someone to be fired for supporting one side of an election issue? And how far would we take this? What if she hadn’t signed the petition but simply intended to vote against marriage, equality, and said so to someone, who told someone else, who told, etc…? What about the church she attends? It is clearly not only anti-equality but involved in the effort to deny marriage rights; that kind of indicates her views even without signing the petition; should membership at a certain church jeopardize her job?

    But I agree with MikeE that “[a]n ‘apology’ from her is entirely pointless”, because I don’t think she owes anyone one.

  • LaTeesha

    This is an April Fool’s story, right? Nobody could be this stupid, right?

  • Joincny

    Sometimes I don’t understand gay people. You want the right to get married, but when someone says they are against it, you don’t try to persuade them to your side, you defend their bigotry under the guise of free speech. Makes no sense. People aren’t going to change their opinions by placating them. You have to challenge their views. You aren’t gaining anyone’s support or respect by defending someone’s right o an outdated opinion. Why don’t you guys see this? You go about this whole thing the wrong way.

  • erikwm

    Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences of your speech. It just means Dr. McCaskill won’t be put in prison for her speech.

    After all, it would be Dr. McCaskill’s civil right to espouse anti-semitic views, but the University would likely view that as a conflict with her role as Chief Equality Officer.

    In light of her public, anti-gay stand, if gay and lesbian students feel they can not be treated equally by Dr. McCaskill, then the University has no choice but to fire her. A school can’t have a Chief Equality Officer that is hostile to certain members of the student body.

  • Cam

    Marylanders for Marriage Equality then came to McCaskill’s defense. “We strongly disagree with the decision to put the chief diversity officer on leave and hope she is reinstated immediately,” campaign manager Josh Levin said in a statement. “Everyone is entitled to free speech and to their own opinion about Question 6, which is about treating everyone fairly and equally under the law.””

    This is an idiotic comment from Marylanders for Marriage Equality. I get that they want to be all touchy feelie and not play the bad guys. But this decidion is NOT about free speech. It is about this woman being able to do her job.

    If she had a job in a co-ed school and signed petitions to keep women from going to school that would show that her views were no consistent with somebody in her position.

    They need to realize that free speech means she is entitles to her opinions, but that also means that Galludet can fire somebody THEY feel does not fit with their job.

    If a starbucks employee was found to be publishing studies saying coffee caused cancer and should be outlawed, Starbucks is perfectly within their rights to fire them.

  • NormdePlume

    That would be like a presidential candidate saying he doesn’t worry about a full half of the population of the country in which he’s running for office………oh, wait……

  • niles

    There are a lot of gay deaf people. I’m sure they were shocked when their “diversity” officer signed a public document calling for the imposition of specific discrimination towards them by the government.

  • DuMaurier

    Okay, and here’s another point: the university’s action, with all the fallout, is such a gift to the National Organization for Marriage’s paranoid propaganda machine that it should be opposed for that reason alone. You know Maggie’s going to be all over THIS.

  • CreoClay

    I’m looking forward to more news on this, including what she says in her apology and responses from faculty at the LGBTQA Resource Center and LGBTQA students at the school. I do wonder if she really did know what she was doing by signing that petition or was just not paying attention in church. And if she did know what she was doing and does oppose marriage equality, has it affected her role as the CDO? If it hasn’t affected her professionalism on campus towards helping LGBT students then she shouldn’t be removed. Otherwise it becomes a witchhunt of firing people for thought crimes.

  • Fabian

    Maryanders for Marriage Equality do not represent the thoughts of the entire lgbta community. They sure as hell don’t represent me or my views. Keep in mind that this is ONE organization. And frankly, they should have butt out. They’re just another HRC cronie that won’t hesitate to trample on others (President T. Alan Hurwitz in this case) when it suits their purposes. Their stance is obviously a political move to sway undecided voters. I’m appalled and see them as total sell outs.

    Dr. Mccaskill has the right to believe and vote however she chooses.That’s not what this is about.The issue here is that her job as chief diversity officer is to be an unwavering advocate for diversity and inclusion. If there is anyone that should be advocating for marriage equality, it’s her. How can she be a true advocate to lgbta students/faculty/staff if she believes that lgbta people do not deserve equal rights? How can the lgbta students, faculty and staff on campus truly trust that she has their best interests at heart? After this incident, they clearly can’t.

    Dr. Mccaskill lied that she was qualified for this job. Anyone that doesn’t truly believe in equality for all is NOT qualified to be chief diversity officer. Would an executive director hired to lead a pro-choice organization who is really pro-life be qualified to lead the organization? By day she leads pro-choice activities but by night she signs pro-life legislation. Would this organization’s board of directors be justified in firing her? You bet they would. This situation is no different. President T. Alan Hurwitz did the right thing by placing Dr. Mccaskill on administrative leave. Her employment at the university should be terminated, not for signing the petition but for her deception.

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