October 10, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Gallaudet administrator placed on leave for signing Md. marriage petition
Gay News, Washington Blade, Gay Marriage

Angela McCaskill (Photo courtesy of Gallaudet University)

Gallaudet University has placed a senior administrator on leave after she reportedly signed a petition against Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

The school’s president, T. Alan Hurwitz, confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that he has placed Dr. Angela McCaskill, associate provost of diversity and inclusion, on paid administrative leave.

“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,” he said. “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.”

The website PlanetDeafQueer reported that an unidentified Gallaudet faculty member filed a complaint with the university last week after discovering McCaskill had signed the petition that prompted the Nov. 6 referendum on the same-sex marriage law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in March. A database of signatories that the Washington Blade published in July notes that Angela Patrice McCaskill of Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County signed it.

McCaskill has been in her current position since Jan. 2011. Her official biography says she has worked at Gallaudet for 23 years.

“Dr. McCaskill’s decision to sign the petition does not automatically declare her support for or against same-sex marriage. It merely indicates that she wants to see the decision made by the people and not the legislature. But if her employer is able to restrict her right to engage in the petition-gathering phase of democracy, are they also allowed to enter the voting booth and dictate how she votes?” said Derek McCoy, chair of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, the group opposed to Maryland’s same-sex marriage law, in a statement. “Unfortunately, this is only the latest in a long list of attacks on individuals who express support for marriage as a union between one man and one woman. If such attacks can be made before same-sex marriage is law, how can homosexual activists in good faith say that religious liberties will not be attacked if Question 6 passes?”

The Blade will provide further updates as they become available.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

25 Comments
  • An attorney is going to win this woman MILLIONS!

  • I am not comfortable with this. I do not like human rights being subjected to a popular vote, and I know that marriage equality is the just choice. however, I do not feel that individuals should be subjected to what is essentially punishment for having an opinion that is in opposition to my own. where will that end, and begin for that matter. all liberty is built on the foundation of free speech and expression. without that, there is no freedom. what do you think?

    • she's Chief Diversity Officer ? oh brother

    • She didn't just express an opinion, she actively advanced legislation to deny equality to Marylanders.

    • signing a petition for a referendum is not legislation to deny equality. even assuming it is, it would reflect her opinion. as a diversity officer, i find her actions highly suspicious. on one hand, she could potentially hold that matters of any particular debate should be put to a vote by the people. the concept of a government 'by the people" supports this. however, the rights of a minority should never be subjected to a popular vote – particularly a vote determined by the majority which discriminates against the minority. these matters are better served by legislators, and the courts. but we are getting away from what i believe is the most important issue. is the woman being penalized for expressing her opinion? and are we going to condone and justify the penalty, or defend the woman's right to be wrong? "It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something many people find at least reasonable. But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive. That was true when the Nazis marched in Skokie. It remains true today."

    • It will end when bigotry is snuffed out of existence, Jerri. The world isn't big enough to accommodate it by one iota, least of all by a person in such a capacity as McCaskill. Signing that petition is a dereliction of your duty to your fellow human being. Expression of bigotry is hate, and it is not harmless opinion. Cultural reinforcement of stigma is the leading cause of suicides among gay youth. These people have blood on their hands.

    • and when popular opinion supported it, frank kameny was fired for stating that "gay is good." two wrongs do not constitute a right. IMHO, the defense of freedom of speech is a sacred duty. and necessary most when it is inconvenient.

    • Jeri, from the state board of elections:

      Each signature page of the petition must contain a statement, to which each signer subscribes, that: 1. The signer supports the purpose of the petition

    • just dont anyone vote for mitt romney or we may as well go back to communism

    • Matt Kleid What if hadn't signed the petition, but was simply opposed to same-sex marriage and voted that way in the referendum? Would that be different?

    • "We strongly disagree with the decision to put the chief diversity officer on leave and hope she is reinstated immediately," Josh Levin, campaign manager of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, said in a statement. "Everyone is entitled to free speech and to their own opinion about Question 6 (the referendum on the ballot), which is about treating everyone fairly and equally under the law."

    • obviously, i am not the only individual who holds the concept of free speech and opinion as a sacred right. Thank God.

    • What does this had to do with free speech? How is the government limiting her speech or her opinion? She acted as a citizen legislator and advanced a piece of legislation denying a minority the fundamental right to marry.

    • Jeri Hughes, all atrocities in history begin with hate propaganda. Before extolling the virtues of open mouth, consider what you would do if you could go back to the 1920s and imprison every member of the German Workers' Party who spoke out against the Jews. Would you shrink from saving 11 million pople? No. You would not, because hate speech is a tool used for one sole purpose, to deprive people of a place in society and the protection of the law. I am quite confident that you cannot name one shred of productive, constructive, enlightening, pacifying, positive, or legitimate hate speech. Though, I invite you to try.

    • actually,matt, the atrocities began with prohibiting any opposition to whatever political dogma was being forced down peoples throats – whether it was anti-semitism, communism, fascism, or liberty, equality, and fraternity. personally, i could provide a speech that hates oppression, intolerance, or bigotry. and i would welcome the right for bigots to be able to voice their opinion that opposes my own. because without the freedom of expression, of opinion, no other freedom exists. you may be living in some form of security, but it is false. you are no longer free. if you silence your enemies voice, you also silence your own. "Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear." Gandhi

  • doctorate is not enough education for this woman.

    • This incident aside, Dr. McCaskill has had a remarkable career characterized by a fierce committment to social justice and equality. Even if you believe that this petition thing doesn't exactly line up with that, her life and long professional record should not be flippantly defined by this one issue.

      • Her life shouldn’t be defined by the “one issue” that is THE civil rights issue of our time? Civil rights isn’t something that creeped up as a racial thing in the 60′s. Civil rights includes many things, and the nature of her job is to support diversity and inclusion. Would NOM allow someone to be the vice president at its organization while supporting gay rights in his/her private life? I doubt it.

        • I’m not sure if it’s really THE civil rights issue of our time, considering that we don’t even have anti-discrimination legislation for LGBT’s in most states, but that aside: if you know anything about McCaskill’s long professional history, this seems more like a weird quirk than something characteristic of her. From what I’ve read, students and faculty at the university are so shocked by this precisely because she’s always been so proactive and sensitive regarding LGBT concerns.

    • Why not? She clearly does not think the LGBT should be afforded equal protection under the law.

  • I love how opponents of marriage equality consistantly claim that tolerance of gays leads to religious oppression. Conservatives are already doing that! Every time they tell a military chaplain that favors gay marriage that he/she cannot perform the marriage and every time they tell inclusive congregations that their gay weddings will not be respected, that IS religious intolerance!

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

    obviously, i am not the only individual who holds the concept of free speech and opinion as a sacred right. Thank God.

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