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Gay & Right-Wing Both Agree: D.C. College’s Diversity Chief’s Suspension for Signing Anti-Gay Marriage Petition Wrong

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Oct 12, 2012
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The administration at the nation’s most prominent school for the deaf in Washington, D.C. has put its chief diversity officer on paid administrative leave after she signed a petition that opposes marriage equality in Maryland, NBC News reports.

Dr. Angela McCaskill of Gallaudet University signed a petition that opposes a referendum to support Maryland’s gay-marriage law. The diversity officer signed the document at her church after her preacher spoke against same-sex marriage.

In November, voters in the state will vote on the measure, which would formally recognize marriage equality in the state.

Planet DeafQueer blog broke the news on Monday. Bloggers noticed that a faculty member of the college had signed the petition after a lawsuit made the name public. Gallaudet University’s officials quickly addressed the issue.

"I want to inform the community that I have placed Dr. Angela McCaskill on paid administrative leave effective immediately," Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz said in a statement. "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."

Hurwitz added that he will use the time McCaskill is on leave to figure out what to do next and to consider "the duties of this position at the university. In the meantime an interim Chief Diversity Officer will be announced in the near future."

According to Buzzfeed, Gallaudet spokeswoman Catherine Murphy said the school does not have "a policy against political participation. For the moment, we are sticking with this statement," she told the website. "Please understand that in an administrative personnel matter we won’t be saying anything more until we get complete clarity on what took place."

Even gay marriage activists are criticizing the school’s decision to suspend McCaskill and say that she should be protected by freedom of speech.

’We strongly disagree with the decision to put the chief diversity officer on leave and hope she is reinstated immediately’

"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."

The chair of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, a group that wants to ban same-sex marriage in the state, also opposed the suspension of the school’s faculty member, the Washington Blade points out.

"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," McCoy said.

President of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins also commented on the incident. "Gallaudet University’s discriminatory action reflects a troubling nationwide trend of voter intimidation and bullying tactics against those who uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman," he said in a statement.

Director of Clemson University International Center of Academic Integrity Teddi Fishman backs Gallaudet’s decision, however.

"If a person is responsible for ensuring equal opportunities for students regardless of their gender or sexual orientation and that person goes on record as being opposed to equal opportunities for people based on their gender and sexual orientation, it certainly appears that there is some incongruity," she wrote NBC News in an email. She added that if she were involved in the situation she would talk with McCaskill to "make sure that her commitment to equal opportunity to all students does indeed extend to them all and to monitor the situation more carefully than I might have done had she not signed the anti-marriage petition."

One of McCaskill’s duties is to promote diversity and inclusiveness in all of the college’s programs and activities for all groups. That includes members of the LGBT community.

An anonymous source, however, told the Washington Blade "There is a long history of competition between black and white deaf people and gays and straights on this campus." The source also told the publication that "LGBT students and faculty members at Gallaudet were genuinely upset that someone they viewed as a supporter and ally would sign an anti-gay petition, especially in her role as head of the school’s diversity and inclusion program."

NBC News notes that McCaskill is the first deaf African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from Gallaudet. She has worked at the university for 23 years in different positions, including the deputy to the president and associate provost of diversity.

Comments

  • Ciboney, 2012-10-12 14:01:33

    Those people --whoever they are!-- who disagree with the decision to put this woman on leave have absolutely no understanding of what an administrator in charge of diversity issues is in an institution of higher education. This woman should be immediately fired for not complying with the duties of the professional position she still holds. Period. If in my work, my job, my duties call for promoting equality and I am of the opinion --"free speech"-- that one group in society does not deserve to have equal rights, compared to others in society, I should not be in that position. Is that a difficult concept for some people to grasp? Geeeezzz!


  • Ian Chai, 2012-10-12 17:12:17

    How can you be a diversity officer if you favor intolerance? It’s like having a man who believes women are men’s propety working under womens equality officer


  • Anonymous, 2012-10-12 18:22:32

    I believe in free speech and all.... but there is definitely a conflict of interest here between her role in the company and her position on the issue. She should have been fired immediately. Shame on her for even considering a job protecting diversity knowing she doesn’t when believe in equality herself!


  • Anonymous, 2012-10-12 18:56:10

    The fact that this woman is supposed to be chief diversity officer


  • Anonymous, 2012-10-12 19:00:02

    The fact that this woman is supposed to be chief diversity officer could be seen as incompatible with her apparent beliefs that gay people do not deserve to be treated as equal human beings. Unless of course her role as chief diversity officer is to ensure campus diversity... Except for gay people


  • gdhamf, 2012-10-12 22:55:23

    isn’t paid leave also called vacation? This woman is entitled to her opinion, so however is her employer. As long as the government stays out of it it is not a free speach issue. Personally I would put her in a different position in the organization where she can express herself and not show a major conflict of interests.


  • Anonymous, 2012-10-13 08:28:26

    I would imagine that her job description called for the complete civil rights and inclusion of gay people. Other wise the university would not have been so quick to suspend her, given how litigation conscious universities are these days. If she held an administrative position that did not directly intrude on serious issues for the gay minority, then it would be appropriate to back her right to promote what most would consider a gay-intolerant policy. Suppose you are a gay student at this university and this is the person you are supposed to go to to help gain full acceptance for gays, would you trust her? If you were balck and she favored separate but equal schools would you trust her?


  • Bob K, 2012-10-14 04:16:17

    HER DUTY WAS TO WALK OUT OF THE CHURCH WHEN THE HATE WAS PREACHED.


  • Anonymous, 2012-10-14 12:32:19

    she should not have been terminated for convictions interpersonal believe are just at her personal beliefs as long as you can please her job and do the job for Wii as a cheap Diversey officer a conviction for university should not have been challenged this is the clear to find a voter intimidation and should be treated as such.


  • YesISaidIt!, 2012-10-15 15:45:41

    As a gay person of color, I support the university in its action. Unfortunately, all too often, blacks, heavily influenced by the church, fail to see LGBT rights as civil rights. How can a person like her be on the right side of diversity. I support her right to free speech, but a person in that capacity has a duty to be vigilant to prevent discrimination in ny form.


  • Redpalacecosmoseaglebullsox, 2012-10-15 16:14:46

    While I disagree with her views concerning marriage equality, she does have the right to express them as a private individual. That is what the First Amendment is all about. She signedthis petition as an individual, not as an official of Galludet University. It is very disappointing that a diversity officer would hold such views concerning the LGBTQ community, but as long as this was an expression of individual belief as opposed to a representation of her professional position, her being placed on leave, even paid leave, goes against the fundamental rights of all Americans. I applaud the Maryland LGBTQ community for opposing this act by the Galludet administration. It shows that we understand what civil rights are, including the right to disagree.


  • Bob K, 2012-10-15 17:14:55

    FOR THOSE WHO TALK ABOUT HER FREE SPEECH RIGHT -- Yes, of course, but please get real! 1--She makes her employer look foolish for having her, and makes a mockery of her job. 2--She makes the campus unsafe for Gay people and destroys Gay students’ rights to come to her with diversity issues and feel safe. SOME JOBS REQUIRE THAT WE KEEP SOME OF OUR SPEECH PRIVATE, OR OUR JOB EFFECTIVENESS IS COMPROMISED.


  • Redpalacecosmoseaglebullsox, 2012-10-15 17:23:19

    @Bob Kellerman--She didn’t intend for this to become a matter of public discourse, an organization not related to Galludet took it upon themselves to do so. Unless her signature reads "Galludet University" she made no representation that she was affiliated with it. It was signed as a private individual. It should remain that way. However, Galludet is within its rights to review her qualifications for the post she holds if they feel that this is in contradiction to her duties.


  • Bob K, 2012-10-24 03:08:54

    A university Diversity officer IS NEVER A PRIVATE FIGURE on issues affecting diversity. And I am sure the people at church know her job. As I wrote, she should have walked out or protested the preacher.


  • Anonymous, 2012-11-17 13:25:24

    Sorry but the word gay is a made up word let’s be honest the true word is homosexuality. Any questions?


  • Anonymous, 2012-11-17 13:27:39

    The church following the bible speaks the truth.


  • Anonymous, 2012-11-17 13:31:00

    2012-11-16 18:12:01 If you want to know what God thinks of gay marriage and the homosexual lifestyle, the read about Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible. God wiped out the entire cities with fire and brimstone


  • Anonymous, 2012-11-17 13:32:19

    The church following the bible speaks the truth.


  • Redpalacecosmoseaglebullsox, 2012-11-17 16:29:49

    To all you anonymous who claim an exclusivity on what the Bible says, I didn’t know you were fluent in Aramaic. As far as "gay" being a made up word, all words in any language are human inventions. As a writer, it’s my job to make the best use of them. The word "gay" was taken to show that the LGBTQ community is not a bunch of miserable perverts but human beings, the same as anyone else. We all put our trousers on the same way, one leg at a time.


  • Anonymous, 2012-11-17 18:36:14

    "fluent in Aramaic."Correct i am not fluent in Aramic which is the languae spoken in Jesus’ time.However since the catholic church has all authority from God they are gifted by the Holy Spirit to teach the thuth one needs toonly follow the church.1 John 4:6 which says, "We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.". This is very powerful one should read and meditate on these words not just gloss over them.


  • Anonymous, 2012-11-17 18:39:11

    "a made up word," True gay is a made up word. Made up however for thoes looking for an excuse to practice an enerous belief.


  • Redpalacecosmoseaglebullsox, 2012-11-17 19:33:19

    Anonymous, 2012-11-17 18:36:14 "fluent in Aramaic."Correct i am not fluent in Aramic which is the languae spoken in Jesus’ time.However since the catholic church has all authority from God they are gifted by the Holy Spirit to teach the thuth one needs toonly follow the church.1 John 4:6 which says, "We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.". This is very powerful one should read and meditate on these words not just gloss over them. Anonymous, 2012-11-17 18:39:11 "a made up word," True gay is a made up word. Made up however for thoes looking for an excuse to practice an enerous belief." I would like to reply in an intelligent fashion as befits my status as a writer. However, given the incredble amount of mis-spellings and grammatical errors, that is impossible. Two points I can address, the "catholic church," which I assume to be the Roman, has absolutely no monopoly on Christianity. Haven’t you heard of the Protestant Reformation. Second, the quotation from John refers specifically to Jesus, known in Hebrew as Yoshua ben Yosef bar Binyamin. In case you haven’t noticed, Jesus was and is Jewish. In fact, he preaches the purest form of Judaism known to history. His Greatest Commandment, "You will love God with all your heart, soul and might. And the second is as the first, you will love your neighbor as yourself" are words that God commanded in Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Jesus also taught, "The one who is without sin shall cast the first stone." That’s right, you will now drop your rocks.


  • Anonymous, 2012-11-17 21:44:26

    "fluent in Aramaic"Here’s a history lesson for you Mr. writer. Aramaic was the language Jesus and the apostles and all the Jews in Palestine spoke. It was the common language of the place." most of the New Testament was written in Greek, but not all. Many hold that Matthew was written in Aramaic-we know this from records kept by Eusebius of Caesarea-but it was translated into Greek early on, perhaps by Matthew himself. In any case the Aramaic original is lost (as are all the originals of the New Testament books), so all we have today is the Greek." Also we know that Jesus spoke Aramaic because some of his words are preserved for us in the Gospels. Look at Matthew 27:46, where he says from the cross, ’Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ That isn’t Greek; it’s Aramaic, and it means, ’My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’


  • Anonymous, 2012-11-17 21:59:29

    Mr. writer although I am not a writer a least I will not try to change history to fit my needs. For example the reformation comes from fools wanting to make their own church . For example, Matthew 16:18: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church." Chuhch is singular only.


  • Anonymous, 2012-11-17 22:04:53

    That’s church. For you grammatical correct folks.


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