Gallaudet University Places Diversity Provost on Leave for Signing Petition to Put Marriage Equality on Ballot

An administrator at Gallaudet University has been placed on paid leave after it was revealed that she had signed a petition to put Maryland's marriage equality law on the ballot (Question 6), the Washington Blade reports.

Angela_mccaskillDr. Angela McCaskill, the employee placed on leave, serves as the associate provost of diversity and inclusion.

The story broke in a story on the website PlanetDeafQueer, which said, in part:

A Gallaudet faculty member, who at this time wishes to remain anonymous, noticed Dr. McCaskill’s name, address and signature on the anti-gay marriage petition and inquired about it.  When confronted by the faculty member, Dr. McCaskill confirmed that she had in fact signed the petition and explained that she had done so while at church, after her preacher had preached against gay marriage.  As she was leaving, her husband pointed to the petition and she signed it without giving it further thought.

An official complaint was filed with the University last week by the mentioned faculty member and a meeting was held on Friday with Gallaudet University President, Dr. Alan Hurwitz.

Said the school’s president, T. Alan Hurwitz:

“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.”

Buzzfeed adds:

Speaking with BuzzFeed, however, Gallaudet spokeswoman Catherine Murphy said, "We don't have a policy against political participation."

A man who identified himself as McCaskill's husband, reached by BuzzFeed, said that McCaskill would be consulting with a lawyer but had no comment at this time about being placed on leave.

Votefor6Marylanders for Marriage Equality released a statement on Thursay opposing the suspension, the Blade reports:

Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, released a statement early Thursday morning expressing opposition to Gallaudet’s decision to place Dr. Angela McCaskill, a Maryland resident and the school’s Associate Provost of Diversity and Inclusion, on paid administrative leave.

“We strongly disagree with the decision to put the chief diversity officer on leave and hope she is reinstated immediately,” Levin said in his statement. “Everyone is entitled to free speech and to their own opinion about Question 6, which is about treating everyone fairly and equally under the law.”

Levin’s statement followed by several hours a statement from Derek McCoy, chair of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, one of the leading groups calling on voters to defeat the same-sex marriage law in the referendum.

“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.


  1. MarkUs says

    Thought Police.
    It doesn’t matter which side she’s “on”, congrats to the “other side” for demanding she be reinstated.

  2. says

    I have to question the appropriateness of her position as the provost of diversity and inclusion when it appears she’s not a proponent of either, she doesn’t need reinstatement she needs to be terminated from that position, her actions belie all else she claims on the matter, give her another job but take her out of this particular one.

  3. Randyowen says

    She may be a bigot, she may have a hard tome fulfilling her job duties because of it, but this has nothing to do with her job. If it was what drove an investigation to her duties and it was found that she was actively working against the LGBT student body as a result of her religious views, then she would be failing to meet her job requirements and then should be dismissed. We are fighting for everyone’s freedom here, the other side may not understand that, or wont understand it but just like the fact that someone is gay is no reason to fire someone, the fact that someone has anti gay beliefs is no reason to fire someone. It is the performance of a job that should matter.

  4. Lou says

    @randy Um, she is the PROVOST of DIVERSITY and INCLUSION, meaning she is the senior administrator at this institution as well as the ultimate public face to Gallaudet’s policies on diversity and inclusion. And here she is publicly – petitions are public – showing support for a non-inclusive, discriminatory initiative. She shouldn’t be on leave; she should be on the bread line.

  5. jason says

    She should relinquish her post as Diversity Provost. She is unfit to hold that position. Let her have another administrative position at the University but not that one.

    It’s sad to see yet another black person promoting discrimination. Haven’t blacks even learned from their own ancestors’ experiences? Sheesh, these people have a serious cognitive dissonance.

  6. kit says

    Of course she has the right to sign the petition and of course she has the right to hold bigoted views. But by doing so, she does raise the question of whether she can properly perform her duties given that those duties require her to be inclusive and work towards the equality of people whom she is biased against. The proper thing is to investigate whether, in her work life, she can positively work for people whom, in her private life, she advocates discriminating against. Maybe she can. Maybe she can’t. The school is investigating that, which seems to me to be the proper thing to do.

  7. Ricco says

    I cannot wrap my head around how someone in her position could/would sign such a petition, but suspend or fire her for doing so?

    This definitely falls under the category, of which so many have been confused these past twelve years, of free speech.

  8. Pangloss says

    If your non-work activities are diametrically opposed to your professional work description, removal from said position is perfectly justifiable. We don’t let pyromaniacs work as firefighters. People with pornography backgrounds are fired from teaching positions. Businesses are allowed to have morality clauses in contracts and off-site conduct stipulations in employee manuals for good reasons.

  9. Ricco says

    AND which is it: Did she sign an anti-gay petition, or did she sign a petition to put marriage equality onto the ballot?

    Why is it so many of these stories on Towleroad seem to contradict the facts within the first paragraph? Does Towleroad not have proofreaders?

  10. jason says

    If she had signed an anti-Jewish screed, she’d be out on her ear. Why on earth is it the case that we express sympathy for someone like her?

  11. Pangloss says

    This isn’t about free speech. It is about hate and hypocrisy. It is tantamount to a white person working at Emory University as as a high-ranking liaison to the black community and being caught at a weekend Klan rally. Do you think he or she would be working in Atlanta come Monday? We need to start seeing this behavior for what it is: outright discrimination. Something that should not be protected under the law.

  12. Steve says

    If she were a normal professor or employee that would be one thing. But she has no business acting like that while being the DIVERSITY officer, ffs. They don’t have to fire her. Just assign her to another position.

  13. Bad Humor Boy says

    Gallaudet needs no guidelines vis-a-vis faculty’s freedom of political participation. However, it must exercize greater scrutiny insuring faculty members meet acceptable standards criteria relevant to their mission assignments.

    Gallaudet acted appropriately and is correct in considering next steps, ie, reassignment or termination.

    There is a significant gay community in the student body of Gallaudet and Dr. McCaskill has either been acting in bad faith in her capacity or acted in bad faith as her husband’s wife and member of her church congregation in signing this petition.

    The suggestion that it was a spur-of-the-moment impulse about which she thought no more is totally unacceptable of one at her level of professional responsibility.

    If her gut instincts, duties and obligations as wife and church member, or anything else incline her to such impulsive decisions, she’s way out of line and out of place in her current position.

  14. Randyowen says

    Personal discrimination is covered by free speech. I find it hard to believe that if she holds these views that she can perform her job appropriately, and that is what i am saying, use this as a reason to start the investigation, but this is not the reason to fire her. They seem to be doing the right thing by stopping her from possibly doing more harm and investigating her performance. This is exactly what should happen regardless of the issue (gay/black/Jewish) signing a petition on ones personal time is not reason for firing, it is reason to look further if it could impact someones professional performance.

  15. Chicago says

    Personal discrimination is not signing a public initiative to get a measure on the ballot. If she wants to personally discriminate against gays in the quiet of her own home, she can seethe all she wants. The moment she pushes for laws that obstruct the rights of others, she lets her hate out to publicly discriminate. Plus she would be the first person screaming racism if someone did a comparable thing to her. You can bet on that.

  16. Michael Lassell says

    I think the saddest commentary is that she just signed the petition and didn’t think any more about it. That casual. Just vote away the rights of an entire oppressed group and not even have the decency to consider her behavior. She may not lose her job over her action, but GLBT people all over the USA lose their jobs for no reason at all, and it’s perfectly legal thanks to “Christians” like this creep.

  17. Chris says

    @ricco You can add yourself to the list of people who don’t understand free speech. The “Free Speech” clause of the constitution prohibits GOVERNMENTAL interference in speech. It does not now, nor has it ever, guaranteed freedom from consequences, the right to employment, freedom from criticism or any of the other things people seem to believe are free speech.
    I this case, it seems that people are questioning her ability to do her job as DIVERSITY officer for the university, while holding discriminatory beliefs about a part of the student population…and that is a valid question. It is like a biology professor signing a petition to teach creationism, or a doctor signing a petition against vaccines….it creates doubts as to their ability to do the job.

  18. Mitch says

    Free speech isn’t without consequences. It doesn’t seem like anyone is questioning her right to sign the petition, however, in doing so, she demonstrated a conflict of interest of the sort that makes her ability to perform her job duties questionable.

  19. Dallas says

    If someone started a petition that pushed for laws that turned black people back to slaves, there would be a public outright of discrimination against every person on that list. If one was a senior administrator at an institution in a position dealing with policy on diversity, there would be calls for their head. So don’t tell me, she has the “right” to hold maintain both her bigoted notion of gays AND her job dealing with inclusion. Maryland is an at-will work state. Immediate termination for cause certainly applies here. Teach this two-faced idiot that the struggle for civil rights didn’t end with her people and the 60’s.

  20. Francis says

    Congrats to Gallaudet University on making the correct decision here. This is not a free speech issue and as has been said, Mrs. McCaskill’s actions and beliefs put her at odds to what her job position requires.

  21. Derrick from Philly says

    LOL@ “Haven’t blacks even learned from their own ancestors’ experiences? Sheesh, these people have a serious cognitive dissonance.”

    Ha! You’re talking about Blacks in general, hunh, Jason? What about yesterday’s story about the Black ministers supporting marriage equality in Maryland? Do they know anything about their “ancestors’ experiences”?

    What the do you know about tolerance, and respect for all people’s civil rights? Based on your Towleroad comments: nothin’.

    And you don’t know sh.t about “their ancestors’ history” except what you’ve learned from “Gone With The Wind” and White supremacist websites.

  22. BABH says

    Wow. Could the Gallaudet administration play into NOM’s hands any more carelessly? We want the lists of donors and petition signers to be publicly available so that these people can be publicly humiliated – free speech countered with free speech – not so that they get fired from their jobs.

    Economic punishment is not the appropriate punishment here. What job duties, specifically, can she not perform adequately as a person who signed a petition to put the marriage question on the ballot? (Without, BTW, expressing any intent to vote for or against the question itself.)

  23. Jack M says

    Diversity is for all, not just for some. Apparently she doesn’t understand that. It’s the position that she holds that makes it an issue. How can she promote diversity when she supports discriminatory practices?

  24. ratbastard says

    There shouldn’t even be a ‘provost of diversity and inclusion’, assistant or otherwise. I understand such a position might have been needed a half century ago, even 40 years ago, but not in 2012. We’ve had 40 years of affirmative action, quotas, and a myriad of other things that have legally made some more equal than others in order to allegedly right past wrongs [the reality is of course it only perpetuates discriminatory practices and 99% of the time hurts those who have never done anything to deserve being ‘affirmatively’ discriminated against].

    The whole thing is FUBAR and BS. The ONLY innocent demographic today discriminated against both legally and by often popular culture are homosexual males and females.

  25. ratbastard says

    TR has mega-trolls; Lil’ Canadian, ‘Jason’, ‘Rick’, and so-on. It’s BS. An obvious attempt to make people with reasonable but opposing views look bad by trolling outrageous and/or silly posts. And old, old game.

  26. MaryM says

    She is free to sign whatever she likes but seeing as her actions indicate that she is opposed to diversity and inclusion then she is clearly not fit for purpose in her new job.

    She does not deserve to be fired – she should be moved to a job where her stupidity and bigotry will not damage other people.

  27. Jay says

    I think Marylanders for Marriage Equality should butt out of Gallaudet University’s business. This woman has every right to sign a petition, but Gallaudet has every right to decide what is appropriate for an employee who is tasked with supporting minorities, including glbtq students and faculty. It is hard to trust an advocate who campaigns against equal rights.

  28. CW says

    Hey, free speech yeah sure. BUT, as a person responsible for creating and fostering diversity at a publicly funded school should she not have an inclusive attitude? Do you think she gives GLBT students a fair and balanced hand? Under these circumstances I would think that in her position she would work towards EXCLUDING GLBT students. She should be demoted, transferred or fired. Either way, you can promote diversity AND be against gay rights.

  29. Booker says

    BABH: Well, you said everything I was going to say, so I’ll confine my comment to restating one of your points: you just know NOM is going to run with this one! “Persecuting someone for daring to hold an opinion!”, etc.

    This is such a gift to that crowd that I can almost believe the university president is a Manchurian Candidate-style NOM plant.

  30. MateoM says

    Ratbastard, who is most certainly another alias of Rick/Jason, is trying to seem like a reasonable anti-troll member of TR. Don’t be fooled by it. He’s just as much a troll as either of those other aliases.

  31. BABH says

    And NOM won’t just use this in Maryland, but also in Washington and Maine, imperiling our lead in those states. The timing of this couldn’t be worse.

  32. John says

    Gallaudet University is a clusterf*$%. They nearly lost accreditation a few years ago and now this? Our country’s deaf and hard-of-hearing college students deserve better and I know that the Gally’s sizable LGBT community is not happy about this.

  33. ratbastard says


    No sir/Madam, I AM NOT ‘Rick’, ‘Jason’ or any other persona. Ratbastard has no other alias.

  34. Caliban says

    She has the right to sign whatever she wants but as the Provost for DIVERSITY and INCLUSION it looks really really bad. It demonstrates the exact OPPOSITE of what her position is supposed to. Gay people are part of “diversity” and “inclusion” INCLUDES gays so she’s obviously not the right person for the position she holds.

    That makes a HUGE difference in this case.

    The position she holds at Gallaudet comes with a certain expectation that she not advocate AGAINST the rights of a marginalized group! So I don’t blame Gallaudet for suspending her but the timing of it politically isn’t great.

  35. Fester says

    Free speech means the government does not put one in prison for one’s speech.

    Employers can fire employees whose speech indicate that they cannot fully meet all the requirements of a job.

  36. MrRoboto says

    This is, indeed, a tough one. While we’re all entitled to freedom of speech (and that applies to the GOVERNMENT censoring us, not private employers), her personal political act (signing the position) potentially opens Gallaudet up to legal claims of discrimination by their Chief Diversity Officer should any student, faculty member or employee have any actionable complaint of discrimination. This was just dumb. Gallaudet is acting appropriately by putting her on leave while investigating more deeply.

  37. Booker says

    FESTER: As far as the 1st Amendment goes, yes; but the actions of employers can be limited by law and contracts. I don’t have enough facts to determine how that relates to this case (I don’t know anything about Maryland law, much less the terms of her contract), but if she were a DC resident, for example, there is a law that specifically outlaws private retaliation against someone for signing a petition.

  38. Randy says

    “she signed it without giving it further thought”

    Scum. She has no place as a diversity provost.

  39. Bob says

    — those who think her job is not still needed in 2012
    — those who think she had a right to sign it without consequences.
    — at the very least

  40. MB says

    I’m appalled that Marylander’s for Marriage Equality had to rub their noses into this. They don’t represent me or the entire LGBTQQA community, that’s for sure. They speak only for themselves and I don’t know what they were thinking by issuing such a press release. Obviously, this is politically motivated.

    Gallaudet President Hurwitz did the right thing. He took swift action. Had he not, the students would have probably gone on protest and even more chaos would have resulted. Dr. Mccaskill’s ability to do her job was questioned and he had every right to put her on administrative leave. Keep in mind that this leave is a paid leave so she’s basically getting a paid holiday while he determines how to best handle this situation.

    She misled the University into believing she was truly for diversity and inclusion when she accepted her job. I don’t see how she could have obtained the job otherwise. She should be terminated for her dishonesty.

  41. Geoff says

    “Emotional distress”? Honey, you haven’t even begun to imagine scratching the surface of the tip of the ice-berg you may be in for.
    Sorry. You been whupped with a big, dumb-stick. You shouldn’t be anywhere near an educational institution unless you’re in a seat taking notes! Carefully. Please.

  42. grego says

    Sister smells money and hopes to score some green from the Uni. In return, I hope they are going back and inspecting her timesheets and expense accounts for lapses in judgement.