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.