City Desk

Gallaudet Employee Put on Leave After Signing Anti-Gay Marriage Petition

If your job is to promote diversity, signing a petition to get a referendum on overturning Maryland's gay marriage law on the ballot is bound to be controversial. But that's exactly what Dr. Angela McCaskill, Gallaudet University's Chief Diversity Officer, did in July. Now the resulting furor, first reported at Planet Deafqueer, has resulted in McCaskill being put on paid administrative leave today.

"Dr. McCaskill has participated in a legislative initiative that some feel is inappropriate for an individual serving as Chief Diversity Officer," Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz said in a statement. "However, other individuals feel differently."

According to the statement, Hurwitz will use McCaskill's leave to determine her future at Gallaudet. An interim Chief Diversity Officer is expected to be appointed.

McCaskill didn't respond to a request for comment. According to her university biography, she was the first black deaf woman to receive a PhD from the school.

Photo by Mr. T. in D.C. used under a Creative Commons license

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  • lovessoldier

    Some gay people I know don't believe in gay marriage. If she worked for a gay rights firm, I could appreciate the disciplinary action. Since it is a COLLEGE where we teach folks that no matter what their bosses say they can form independent OPINIONS, no action necessary. Ridiculous, too many people unemployed over BS, let the lady go back to work. She didn't organize a forum disparaging gay marriage. Sad someone actually posted the petition (what kind of scare tactic is that), even sadder now someone's bread and butter is threatened.

  • capitol hill

    She makes her living promoting diversity, but wants the freedom to deny equal rights to one specific group? It definitely wasn't a smart thing for her to get involved in. Glad I am not the one deciding her future with the university, because I don't know that my decision would be in favor of her freedoms- unfair as that might sound to some.

  • Don

    Sounds pretty reasonable to me. This isn't a case of someone's employment being punished for expressing an opinion. This is someone's commitment to their core job duty being called into question because they lent their name to something that pretty strongly flies in the face of that mission.

    Personally I suspect this was a case of someone lazily signing something they hadn't bothered to read rather than a conflict of motives. However I'm not sure I have an issue with holding someone in a core communications role to the standard that maybe they ought to pay some damned attention to what they sign their name under.

  • Typical DC BS

    Sorry, left-wing losers. She doesn't lose her right to free association in her private life and this bullshit job action just proves the whole "Diversity" ideology is nonsense. She didn't sign it on behalf of the university, did she?

    I smell a MAJOR lawsuit coming on her right to hold views that may be anathema to her employers, but isn't illegal or unethical.

    Nice to see communism is still alive, right capitol hill and Don?

  • Marco Luxe

    As a diversity officer, Dr. M needs to evaluate EVERY classification she comes across for its relationship to merit. She should be used to this. Gender classifications in marriage laws have nothing to do with the underlying status of being a real-world couple or the merit of the individuals in the relationship.

  • Hyhybt

    I don't like the idea of *any* employer rewarding or punishing anyone for how they vote or what petitions they sign. Our whole system depends on people being able to make those choices for themselves, and fear of losing your job severely undermines that.

  • Linda Jones

    So, if you sign a petition "against" the referendum are you going to lose your job, or is it only people who sign a petition"for"a referendum that deserve to lose their jobs?

    And just because you are "for" the citizens of MD being allowed to call a referendum on a highly controversial issue that was rushed into law by their state government, doesn't mean that you are for or against the issue itself. It simply means that you believe the citizens of MD should be allowed to decide if this becomes law. There are a lot of folks in MD who don't think the board that pushed this through represents the majority of the people of MD. A vote will settle that. All Dr. McCaskill did by signing the petition was say she agrees the citizens should have a voice.

  • Me

    Gallaudet (and anyone suggesting that Dr. McCaskill be fired for signing a petition) doesn't have a leg to stand on. If she is removed, I recommend people immediately begin calling for the firing of Hurwitz and any other Gallaudet staff responsible for the violation of Dr. McCaskill's civil rights.

    It should be added that "promoting diversity" doesn't equal accepting every position regarding various groups. Being opposed to gay marriage is not the same as opposing gay students on campus, for example. It's ignorant and misleading to conflate the two.

  • Eric


    Signing a petition to place a measure on the ballot is not a neutral act. It indicates support for the initiative.

  • Luiz Rafiq

    There is no problem with equal rights. Any man can marry any woman (except close relatives, of course) regardless of whether they claim to be attracted only to men, only to women, neither or both.

  • unlingua

    A diversity officer should be a model individual.

    By which I mean, an individual whose differences with others in her community create diversity.

    I presume there are gay marriage supporters on the faculty. Doesn't her conduct express diversity on the campus? Wouldn't the administration backing her right to an individual opinion demonstrate they value diversity?

  • Booker

    So, is the problem that she signed a petition, or that she personally holds the views expressed in the petition? Would holding these views be okay as long as they weren't expressed this way? After all, whether or not she had signed the petition circulated by her church, her views on same-sex marriage would be fairly apparent just from the fact that she is a member of and (presumably) financial contributor to this church.

    Should attendance at certain churches be a legitimate reason to penalize an employee as well?

  • EE

    What civil rights? There was no government action here. Her suspension might violate some internal policies but not the First Amendment.

  • Jes’ sayin’

    This is not at all unlike a diversity officer signing a petition to overturn a racial civil rights protection.

    She would be within her legal rights to do so, and should not be fired for exercising her own legal rights. But there is a question as to whether she should hold the diversity job in the first place.

    Deaf people know more about discrimination than most of us. A deaf diversity officer should be sensitive to the feelings and needs of Gally's large LGBT population, and should be a person the LGBT's can trust.

    This woman in monumentally stupid and unfit to serve in her current position. But the University should not be allowed to fire her for exercising her petition rights as a citizen.

  • Out of Bounds

    Not agreeing with a public policy or law for her own personal reasons doesn't mean she is anti-diversity and can't do her her job fairly. Whatever her belief against the law, she has a right to them and to pursue her civil liberties. A law professor might have a problem with the process or working of a civil rights act, but that doesn't make mean they are racist.