On November 6th, Maryland voters will decide whether the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which was enacted by the Maryland legislature and grants lesbian and gay couples the equal right to marry, is upheld or rejected.
While there are many that support overturning this important civil rights legislation, one person you would never expect to be in favor of doing so is Gallaudet University’s own Chief Diversity Officer and Maryland resident, Dr. Angela McCaskill.
Dr. McCaskill, whose job at Gallaudet is to promote diversity and inclusion at Gallaudet, signed an anti-gay marriage petition dated July 12, 2012, in favor of overturning the Civil Marriage Protection Act and denying lesbian and gay people the basic right to marry.
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.
Dr. McCaskill is expected to issue a public apology.
The Chief Diversity Officer position is a new position at Gallaudet and Dr. McCaskill became the first person to assume the role early last year. According to sources, Dr. McCaskill has been an ardent supporter of Gallaudet’s LGBTQA Resource Center, which was formed in October 2010 and is part of the Office of Diversity and Equity for Students.
Dr. McCaskill is well liked by students. “She’s been a great ally to the LGBT community and supported many of the LGBTQA Resource Center’s programs,” said one student, who asked to remain anonymous. “I’m heart broken about this.”
LGBT students, faculty and staff we spoke to said they felt shock, disappointment, anger and betrayal upon learning of the signed petition. Some are calling for Dr. McCaskill’s resignation. Others are waiting for an official response from Dr. McCaskill and wondering if it will be possible for her to regain their trust.
“In her role as Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. McCaskill has made many advances for Deaf people of color, LGBT and other minorities at Gallaudet,” said a staff member who wishes to remain anonymous. “This situation is very disheartening for all of us.”
Dr. McCaskill could not be reached for comment.
Correction: It was the faculty member that filed the complaint with the University, not Dr. McCaskill, who met with President Hurwitz on Friday.