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Gallaudet president reinstates chief diversity officer

University, McCaskill mum on possible terms of reinstatement

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Angela McCaskill, Maryland marriage petition, same sex marriage, gay marriage, Gallaudet University, Washington Blade, gay news
Angela McCaskill, Wyndal Gordon, Maryland marriage petition, same sex marriage, gay marriage, Gallaudet University, Washington Blade, gay news

Angela McCaskill was placed on leave by Gallaudet University from her job as a diversity officer after it was revealed she signed an anti-gay marriage petition. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gallaudet University announced late Monday that it has reinstated its chief diversity officer, who was placed on paid administrative leave in October for signing a petition to place Maryland’s same-sex marriage law on the ballot in a voter referendum.

“With this communication I am announcing that Dr. Angela McCaskill has returned to campus to resume her full-time duties and responsibilities as Chief Diversity Officer,” Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz said in an email sent to students, faculty, and staff members.

Hurwitz made the decision to place McCaskill on leave after news surfaced on campus in early October that she signed the petition circulated by same-sex marriage opponents seeking to overturn the marriage equality law passed earlier in the year by the Maryland General Assembly.

Anti-gay groups opposing the marriage law immediately denounced Hurwitz’s action, saying it confirmed their predictions that the law would lead to intolerance toward people of faith who oppose gay marriage. The opponents noted that McCaskill, a Maryland resident, signed the petition at her church.

In a news conference in Annapolis one week after what supporters called the suspension from her job, McCaskill said the action violated her right as a citizen to petition the government to give voters the opportunity to decide on a controversial issue. She declined to say whether she would vote for or against the marriage equality law in the November election.

Marriage equality supporters, including Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, joined opponents in calling on Gallaudet to reinstate McCaskill, saying they, too, believe she shouldn’t be penalized for expressing her personal views on the matter.

Voters upheld the law in a close vote, making Maryland along with two other states – Maine and Washington – the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. Same-sex marriages began in Maryland shortly after midnight on New Years Day.

In his email message on Monday, Hurwitz didn’t say whether the reinstatement was based on any conditions. At the time he placed McCaskill on leave, Hurwitz hinted that he was sympathetic to concerns raised by gay and lesbian students on campus that it was inappropriate for the campus diversity officer to push for a ballot measure seeking to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry.

At her news conference in Annapolis, McCaskill startled some gay activists when she identified two out lesbian faculty members at Gallaudet whom she said persuaded Hurwitz take action against her for signing the ballot petition.

When reached by the Blade, faculty members Martina “MJ” Bienvenu and Kendra Smith declined to comment, saying they preferred that the matter be a “discussion” between the university and McCaskill.

“During the past three months a large number of you have taken the initiative to communicate with me,” Hurwitz said in his email. “This has been a period of reflection for all of us. I am deeply appreciative of the time you have taken to communicate your views, of the clearly heartfelt manner in which you have expressed those thoughts, and of the overall maturity you have shown in your willingness to consider the differing views others may hold.”

He added, “The work of the University’s Office of diversity and Inclusion is vital and must continue in an active and vibrant way. I personally look forward to working with Dr. McCaskill on the work of that office.”

McCaskill’s attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. At the Annapolis news conference, Gordon said the university’s action “tarnished” McCaskill’s reputation. He said that on her behalf, he had asked the university to compensate McCaskill for damages, in addition to reinstating her, and hinted that she would consider filing a lawsuit over the matter.

University spokesperson Kaitlin Luna, who provided the Blade with a copy of Hurwitz’s email statement, said the university would have no further comment.

“As for the other questions, they are legal matters, which the university cannot speak to,” she said.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Jay Will

    January 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I don't think she should be penalized for expressing her views, but how can you be a chief DIVERSITY officer if you don't support diversity? Not really sure on that one.

    • Anonymous

      January 9, 2013 at 2:30 am

      "but how can you be a chief DIVERSITY officer if you don't support diversity?"
      Answer: You can't do the job fairly holding those opinions.

    • Brooks Dean

      January 10, 2013 at 1:23 am

      jessiegrrl So the I guess the question would be: before she signed the petition and held these views but nobody knew about it, how did she do her job?

  2. Jay Will

    January 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I don't think she should be penalized for expressing her views, but how can you be a chief DIVERSITY officer if you don't support diversity? Not really sure on that one.

  3. Tom Coggia

    January 8, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    If it had been any other group targeted by that legislation, she would not have gotten her job back. Yes, things are getting better for GLBTQ people – rapidly, in some quarters. But it remains true today that gays are just about the last group it's acceptable to hate on so publicly. Particularly when that hate is dressed up in and insulated by religious finery. The fact that the population she is charged with serving is particularly accepting of GLBTQ people only makes it more stupefying and ironic to include the term "diversity" in her job title.

    The university needs to consider whether or not any GLBTQ students will ever feel comfortable interacting with her, and if she is able to faithfully execute her professional duties given her (now very public) views and her willingness to impose those views on those who do not share them.

    It's not a crime to be on the wrong side of history, but putting this woman in charge of something which she fundamentally does not support is just idiotic.

    Perhaps Gallaudet has a job fair she can attend. I'm certain there is *something* this woman is good at, but fostering inclusion and tolerance is clearly not it.

    • John Edward Kandray

      January 8, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      Holy shit Tom Coggia, that's awesome. Well said. I think somebody got a big box of wisdom for their birthday.

    • Tom Coggia

      January 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Further, Gallaudet is a federally chartered university for the deaf and hard of hearing. How a clearly educated person in that position, herself an African-American woman, working within that population, can so stubbornly cling to – and promote – these last vestiges of institutional bigotry is just mind-boggling to me.

    • Keith Stanley

      January 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      when they have a lawsuit on theirs hand they will change there mind

  4. Raymond A. Nolen

    January 8, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    She is a bigot, and uses her religion as an excuse to discriminate……I quess "diversity" includes the homophobic community!

    • Chris P Neufeld K

      January 9, 2013 at 2:30 am

      As gallaudet university student, I was unpleased to hear that Dr. A. McCaskill returned her old job of CDO, but I don't blame Pro-LGBT president Hurwitz's decision because he had no choice.

      In fact, She repeatedly threatened taking legal action against University Gallaudet when she viciously rejected offer for reassigning position. She talked outspoken against bullying and thanked to Hateful group NOM in media press conference.

      I find that her behavior was unacceptable. Unfortunately, Gallaudet cannot afford defense against lawsuit. :( I'm sure that majority of students will scream to her "RESIGN NOW" because she totally failed to issue public apology to Gallaudet community including LGBT.

      She is deaf and holds Phil-Degree that she wants stay as job in Gallaudet. It sounds sad! :(

  5. G Jak Klinikowski

    January 8, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Stinking rotted CHRISTONAZI bitches like McCaskill have NO BUSINESS being DIVERSITY officers ANYWHERE! I hope the students there make her vulgar existence a living hell until the repulsive cow quits!

    • G Jak Klinikowski

      January 8, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      I wish there were a hell because this revolting BITCH would surely ROT there!

  6. Cameron Robert

    January 9, 2013 at 1:26 am

    How can a bigot like McCaskill possibly carry out her job responsibilities? It's absolutely ludicrous that she was reinstated.

  7. Keith Stanley

    January 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    it's amazing how the Oppressed becomes the oppressor, church and state should always be sepreated, but this woman has no since at all. talks against a certain group of people that pay taxes and every right under the LAW to be treated equal. Yet, this diversity offices is choosing to discriminate. BTW is she married………. If not, I can see why she's mad more men off the market for her… Black Women full of attitude and shit.

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Gay attorney’s plans to run for Del. Senate foiled by redistricting

Activists say move will ‘dilute’ LGBTQ vote

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Mitch Crane, gay news, Washington Blade
Gay Democratic activist Mitch Crane. (Photo courtesy Crane)

Plans by Delaware gay attorney and Democratic Party activist Mitch Crane to run for a seat in the Delaware State Senate in a district that included areas surrounding the town of Lewes, where Crane lives, and Rehoboth Beach ended abruptly this week when state officials approved a redistricting plan that removes Crane’s residence from the district.

The seat for which Crane planned to run is in Delaware’s 6th Senate District which, in addition to Lewes and Rehoboth, includes the towns of Dewey Beach, Harbeson, Milton, and surrounding areas, according to the state Senate’s website. 

The seat is currently held by Ernesto “Ernie” Lopez, a moderate Republican who became the first Hispanic American elected to the Delaware Senate in 2012. Lopez announced in July that he would not seek re-election in 2022. 

The redistricting plan, which was approved by leaders of the Democratic-controlled Delaware General Assembly, places the section of the Lewes postal district where Crane lives into the 19th Senate District. Crane said that district is in a heavily Republican and conservative part of the state dominated by supporters of President Donald Trump who remain Trump supporters.

Under Delaware law, changes in the district lines of state Senate and House districts, which takes place every 10 years following the U.S. Census count, are decided by the Delaware General Assembly, which is the state legislative body.

Crane told the Washington Blade that neither he nor any other Democrat would have a realistic chance of winning the State Senate seat next year in the 19th District.

“Jesus could not win in that district if he was a Democrat,” said Crane.

Crane said a Democratic candidate could win next year in the reconfigured 6th Senate District now that incumbent Lopez will not be seeking re-election.

The Cape Gazette, the Delaware newspaper, reported in an Oct. 22 story that Crane was one of at least two witnesses that testified at a two-day virtual hearing held Oct. 18-19 by a State Senate committee, that the proposed redistricting would dilute the LGBTQ vote in the 6th District and the draft proposal should be changed.

 “The proposed lines remove a significant percentage of the LGBTQ residents from the current 6th District where most of such residents of southern Delaware live and place them in the 19th District which has a smaller such population,” the Cape Gazette quoted Crane telling the committee. “By doing so, it dilutes the impact of the gay community which shares political beliefs,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

“The proposed lines dilute the voting power of the LGBTQ community in addition to others who respect diversity,” the Cape Gazette quoted 6th District resident Sandy Spence as telling the committee. 

In an Oct. 10 email sent to potential supporters before the redistricting plan was approved, Crane said he believes he has the experience and record that make him a strong candidate for the state Senate seat. He is a former chair of the Sussex County Democratic Party, where Rehoboth and Lewes are located; and he currently serves as an adjunct professor at Delaware State University’s graduate school, where he teaches American Governance and Administration.

He is a past president of the Delaware Stonewall PAC, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, and he’s the state’s former Deputy Insurance Commissioner.

 “I intend to focus on smart growth in Sussex County; work on the problems of homelessness and the need for affordable housing; and assuring that this district receives its fair portion of tax dollars,” he said in his Oct. 10 email message announcing his candidacy.

Crane said he posted a Facebook message on Oct. 26 informing supporters that the redrawn district lines removed him from the district, and he is no longer a candidate.

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MSNBC’s Capehart to host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch Nov. 6

Ashland Johnson to serve as keynote speaker

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Gay journalist Jonathan Capehart will host SMYAL’s Fall Brunch. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Pulitzer Prizing-winning gay journalist Jonathan Capehart, the anchor of MSNBC’s “Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart,” will serve as host for the 24th Annual SMYAL Fall Brunch scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6, at D.C.’s Marriott Marquis Hotel.

The annual Fall Brunch serves as one of the largest fundraising events for SMYAL, which advocates and provides services for LGBTQ youth in the D.C. metropolitan area. 

“Each year, a community of advocates, changemakers, and supporters comes together at the Fall Brunch to raise much-needed funds to support and expand critical programs and services for queer and trans youth in the DMV area,” a statement released by the organization says.

The statement says attorney and former Division I women’s collegiate basketball athlete Ashland Johnson will be the keynote speaker at the SMYAL Fall Brunch. Johnson founded the sports project called The Inclusion Playbook, which advocates for racial justice and LGBTQ inclusion in sports.

Other speakers include Zahra Wardrick, a SMYAL program participant and youth poet; and Leandra Nichola, a parent of attendees of Little SMYALs, a program that SMYAL says provides support for “the youngest members of the LGBTQ community” at ages 6-12. The SMYAL statement says Nichola is the owner and general manager of the Takoma Park, Md., based café, bar, retail, and bubble tea shop called Main Street Pearl.

According to the statement, the SMYAL Fall Brunch, including a planned silent auction, will be live streamed through SMYAL’s Facebook page for participants who may not be able to attend in person. For those attending the event in person, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required, and masks will also be required for all attendees when not actively eating or drinking, the statement says.

The statement says that for attendees and supporters, the Fall Brunch is “a community celebration of how your support has not only made it possible for SMYAL to continue to serve LGBTQ youth through these challenging times, it’s allowed our programs to grow and deepen.”

Adds the statement, “From affirming mental health support and housing to fostering community spaces and youth leadership training, we will continue to be there for queer and trans youth together.”

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McAuliffe: Youngkin ‘most homophobic’ candidate in Va. history

Former governor spoke with Blade on Oct. 21

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Terry McAuliffe (Photo courtesy of Terry McAuliffe for Governor)

Terry McAuliffe described Republican Glenn Youngkin as the “most homophobic” and most “anti-choice candidate” in Virginia history during an Oct. 21 telephone interview with the Washington Blade.

“I’m running against the most homophobic, anti-choice candidate in Virginia history,” said McAuliffe. “I ran against Ken Cuccinelli. That’s saying something.”

McAuliffe, a former chair of the Democratic National Committee, in 2013 defeated Cuccinelli, Virginia’s then-attorney general who vehemently opposed LGBTQ rights, in that year’s gubernatorial race. Youngkin, the former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, is running against McAuliffe in the race to succeed current Gov. Ralph Northam.

State Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William County) is running for lieutenant governor, while Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking re-election. They are running against Republicans Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares respectively.

The entire Virginia House of Delegates is also on the ballot on Nov. 2. The outcome of those races will determine whether Democrats maintain control of the chamber.

Youngkin remains opposed to marriage equality

The Associated Press a day after McAuliffe spoke with the Blade published an interview with Youngkin in which he reiterated his opposition to marriage equality, but stressed it is “legally acceptable” in Virginia and he would “support that” as governor.

The anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized as an extremist group, earlier this month endorsed Youngkin. The Human Rights Campaign and Equality Virginia’s political action committee are among the groups that have backed McAuliffe.

Youngkin earlier this year said he does not support allowing transgender children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity. Youngkin has also expressed support for Tanner Cross, a gym teacher at a Leesburg elementary school who was suspended in June after he spoke against the Virginia Department of Education guidelines that are designed to protect trans and non-binary students.

HRC in 2019 named the Carlyle Group as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index. McAuliffe scoffed at this recognition.

“They should have checked with their co-CEO who’s against marriage equality,” he told the Blade. “That would have been the first place I would have gone to ask.”

‘I’ve always been out front fighting to protect everybody’

McAuliffe’s first executive order as governor after he took office in 2014 banned discrimination against LGBTQ state employees. He also vetoed several anti-LGBTQ religious freedom bills, created Virginia’s LGBTQ tourism board and became the state’s first governor to declare June Pride month.

McAuliffe noted to the Blade that he is also the first governor of a southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding. The lesbian couple whom he married has recently appeared in one of his campaign ads.

“I spent four years vetoing every single legislation Republicans brought forth and came across my desk that would have discriminated against the LGBTQ community,” said McAuliffe. “I’ve always been out front fighting to protect everybody.”

McAuliffe noted that CoStar, a D.C.-based commercial real estate company, moved more than 1,000 jobs to Richmond from Charlotte after then-North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2, which banned trans people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity and prohibited municipalities from enacting LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination measures. McAuliffe described HB 2 to the Blade as the “anti-gay bill.”

“There’s real consequences … to discriminatory actions and I will not tolerate any of it,” he said.

Former President Barack Obama campaigns with Terry McAuliffe in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 23, 2021. Obama is among the prominent Democrats who have traveled to Virginia in recent weeks to campaign on behalf of McAuliffe. (Photo courtesy of Terry McAuliffe for Governor)

McAuliffe last month said during his first debate against Youngkin that local school boards “should be making their own decisions” with regards to the implementation of the Virginia Department of Education guidelines for trans and non-binary students. McAuliffe during his second debate against Youngkin stressed “locals” should provide input on the policy, but added “the state will always issue guidance.”

McAuliffe told the Blade he has “been so offended about how many folks have tried to really demonize our children here in this state.” McAuliffe referenced children with “self-identity issues” during the interview, but he did not specifically cite those who identify as trans or non-binary.

“We’ve got to help our children … we got to help our children who are desperately in need today,” he said. “And we got to show them that we’ll be there for them, as I say, no matter how they identify or who they love.”

Youngkin on Saturday during a campaign event in Henrico County said he would ban the teaching of critical race theory in Virginia schools. McAuliffe criticized his opponent on this issue when he spoke with the Blade.

“Critical race theory is not taught in Virginia, nor has it ever been taught,” said McAuliffe. “These are dog whistles that are used, and especially in the CRT, it’s a racist dog whistle and it just fits into this whole pattern of using our children as political pawns and I hate it.”

Youngkin ‘would drive businesses out of’ Va.

McAuliffe has continued to portray Youngkin as an extremist on other issues that range from abortion and vaccine mandates as polls suggest the race between the two has grown tight. McAuliffe also continues to highlight former President Trump’s support of Youngkin.

McAuliffe told the Blade that Youngkin is “100 percent against abortion” and said his opponent would “bring those Texas-style type abortion” laws to Virginia.

The law, which bans almost all abortions in Texas and allows private citizens to sue doctors and anyone else who helps a woman obtain one, took effect last month. The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 1 will hear oral arguments in a case that challenges the law.

“We always knew that the Supreme Court would be a backstop on women’s rights issues: Roe v. Wade. That is gone. It’s over,” said McAuliffe. “Donald Trump’s Supreme Court is going to overrule the basic tenants of Roe v. Wade.”

McAuliffe added the Supreme Court “is going to allow these states to roll back women’s reproductive rights, so that’s no longer a talking point.”

“This is reality,” said McAuliffe. “Every woman in Virginia needs to understand it.”

Terry McAuliffe has said Glenn Youngkin poses a threat to abortion rights in Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Terry McAuliffe for Governor)

Youngkin, for his part, has said he would not have signed the Texas law.

Trump on Oct. 13 described Youngkin as a “great gentleman” when he called into the “Take Back Virginia Rally” in Henrico County that John Fredericks, host of “Outside the Beltway with John Fredericks” who co-chaired the former president’s 2016 campaign in Virginia, organized.

Participants recited the Pledge of Allegiance to an American flag that was present at the U.S. Capitol insurrection. Youngkin in a statement his campaign released said he “had no role” in the event and said it was “weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to a flag connected to January 6.”

“As I have said many times before, the violence that occurred on January 6 was sickening and wrong,” he said.

McAuliffe told the Blade that Youngkin would make Virginia “a dangerous place to live and work.”

“His governorship, if he were to be elected, would roll back individual liberties,” said McAuliffe. “He doesn’t support gay marriage, he is for eliminating abortion here in the commonwealth of Virginia and he will drive businesses out of our state and finally it is dangerous for people.”

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