October 17, 2012 at 8:44 pm EDT | by Mark Lee
The LGBT love affair with ‘hate’

For many in the LGBT community the word “hate” is no longer a noun or a verb. It’s simply an overused adjective with which some have fallen in love.

Following the controversial decision last week by Gallaudet University to place Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Angela McCaskill on paid administrative leave in response to her having signed a ballot petition in her residential locale in Maryland to qualify a voter referendum on the state’s pending same-sex marriage law, consternation and condemnation was the overwhelming reaction.

McCaskill, a 23-year employee at the D.C. campus of the nation’s leading university for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, is the first deaf African-American female to earn her Ph.D. from Gallaudet. She was suspended by President Alan Hurwitz following a complaint by a faculty colleague, reportedly an out lesbian, who had discovered McCaskill’s name on the list of signatories published by the Washington Blade.

In announcing the decision, Hurwitz indicated that McCaskill’s petition signing had caused members of the university to be “concerned and confused” – terms more aptly self-applied.

Gallaudet proved more than a tad bit ironic in demonstrating an inability to tolerate a diversity of opinion by its own diversity officer. Although irrelevant, it soon became known that McCaskill had not signed the ballot petition as a result of any anti-gay animus, instead considering it a legislative issue best decided by the democratic process.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, other same-sex marriage supporters and Marylanders for Marriage Equality quickly criticized the university’s decision to punish McCaskill and called for her immediate reinstatement. “We strongly disagree with the decision,” Josh Levin, campaign manager for the organization supporting approval of Question 6, said in a statement. The group also placed an ad in The Capital newspaper condemning the suspension, noting that the issue was “being able to express one’s opinions, freely, and participate in the political process.”

The Washington Post editorialized against the university action, pointing out “there is no evidence that her views on gay marriage, whatever they are, affected her performance at work. To the contrary, until now she was known for supporting a new resource center for gay students on campus. Firing, or threatening to fire, a diversity officer for off-campus political activity strikes us as inconsistent with ‘open sharing of thoughts and ideas.’”

Maryland State Rep. Aisha Braveboy, chair of the legislature’s Black Caucus joined McCaskill at a press conference outside the State Capitol Building in Annapolis this week, indicating that the Caucus was “highly troubled” that Gallaudet would punish its Associate Provost of Diversity and Inclusion.

Also troubling was the frequently vitriolic comments posted online at mainstream media news reports and on both LGBT and general audience blogs supporting the institution’s indefensible actions.

Worse, a number of the commentaries introduced a new term into the vernacular: “Hate voting.”

This outrageous epithet is presumably reserved for those with opposing political views. A companion expression to the milder “hate chicken,” recently espoused regarding Chick-fil-A.

Is alleged “hate voting” a “hate crime”?

Friends and relatives reportedly described McCaskill encountering “why do you hate me?” inquiries.

Voter petitions are available for public inspection, including for the purpose of verifying ballot qualification. Technology allows easy dissemination of names and addresses.

Although access to such information is a little creepy and can lead to abuse, that genie now roams outside the bottle. However, the notion that identifying neighbors and coworkers with differing political views will result in Kumbaya doorstep dialogue is disingenuous. It will garner further public process disengagement and make petition signature gathering more difficult.

Hurwitz announced on Tuesday the option for McCaskill to return to her job, likely fearing a lawsuit and ongoing blowback. However, he indicated there were unspecified hoops through which she needed to jump.

A public apology is what is called for, Mr. Hurwitz, plus maybe a few extra credit courses in constitutional law.

Maryland voters will soon decide the fate of marriage equality. Let’s hope they overlook Gallaudet University’s boneheaded actions against a fellow citizen and the “hate reaction” by some members and supporters of the LGBT community.

All we can hope is that they not hate us.

Mark Lee is a local small business manager and long-time community business advocate. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

  • Oh yes, it wasn't animus, she just thought people should get to vote on civil rights. Completetly understandable. For, you know, someone that doesn't understand the history of civil rights and how mob rule and civil rights are a bad combination.

    So hey… she's either an idiot or dishonest. Not sure either helps her case.

    But regardless… if I were a student or faculty at the university? After hearing about her signing the petition I wouldn't trust her to be the advocate she's supposed to be. Call that petty, if you will, but I've never wanted to vote on *your* marriage, and the idea that you get to vote on mine isn't "democratic", it's tyranny by the mob.

  • The author is mistaken: take a look at the 2008 case of Crystal Dixon, Assoc. VP of Human Resources who was fired for anti-LGBT remarks, sued for free speech grounds, and was rejected by the Federal District Court due to the fact that as a public employee, her words were sufficiently insubordinate enough to her job title to merit the firing.

    We do not have unlimited, untethered liberty. The author carrying on and making a ridiculous charade of his righteous indignation is laughable. Stop draping yourself in the Constitution: if you don’t even know the relevant case law, you have no business editorializing.

  • Amen, Johnathan! I was wondering how to word my comments, but you took the words right out of my mouth.

    Boo-hoo, she’s encountered people asking her why she hates them! Considering that, to right-minded individuals, the battle for marriage equality IS a civil rights battle, and opposition to said equality (or, in this case, tacit support of said opposition) can logically be considered to be borne of bigotry and hatred, what else are LGBT people and our allies to think?

    Since this woman is (like me) African-American, perhaps someone SHOULD ask her if, almost 50 years ago, SHE would’ve been okay letting the citizens vote on HER civil rights. If she were to indicate that she would, then she’d be either a liar or a self-hating moron.

    And, really, so what that she recently supported a resource center for gay students on campus. And? Are we really going to play this game where we treat bigotry like a black-and-white phenomenon when it really is, many, many times, a matter of gradation? As in, some people are fine with gay people, just as long as we know our place. Hmmm, where have I heard that before with regard to another unjustly vilified group of Americans?

    Should she be reinstated? I don’t know, but I do know that, if a white director of diversity had signed a petition allowing people to vote on whether or not blacks should be able to move into white neighborhoods, I would be real leery of having such a person continue in that post.

  • She didn’t do it out of animus, she just thought our rights are “a legislative issue best decided by the democratic process”.. So when do we get to vote on her rights? Not out of hate or anything, just because we think they’re “a legislative issue best decided by the democratic process”.

  • The biggest irony is that Gallaudet is probably in violation of the D.C. Human Rights Act!

  • I'd sign some petition too, if I knew I'd get to go off on "paid administrative leave" for a few weeks. Free vacation! Yay!

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