The chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University was suspended after the school found out that she signed a petition to get the gay marriage referendum on the ballot in Maryland. Tuesday, she gave her side of the story. News4's Jackie Bensen reports.
The Gallaudet University chief diversity officer who was placed on leave for signing a petition to put same-sex marriage on the ballot in Maryland demanded reinstatement Tuesday afternoon.
Surrounded by members of the Legislative Black Caucus in Annapolis and speaking through a sign language interpreter, Dr. Angela McCaskill said she was "intimidated" by the university, calling it a university of intolerance that allows bullying, News4's Jackie Bensen reported.
She also is seeking compensation for mental and emotional damage. She said the university and student groups caused her severe emotional distress.
"The world is watching," McCaskill said.
McCaskill said she will not state her position on same-sex marriage. Her lawyer said Monday she signed the position so the issue could be decided by the democratic process.
The president of Gallaudet said in a statement Tuesday that the university would like to "work with" McCaskill.
In the statement, President T. Alan Hurwitz said:
As many know, Dr. McCaskill exercised her right to sign a petition concerning legislation on gay marriage. Because of her position at Gallaudet as our Chief Diversity Officer, many individuals at our university were understandably concerned and confused by her action. They wanted to know "does that action interfere with her ability to perform her job?"
I placed her on paid administrative leave as a prudent action to allow the university -- and Dr. McCaskill - the time to consider this question after the emotions of first reactions subsided. While this has become an issue beyond our campus, as President of Gallaudet University, my number one concern is our university community - our students, faculty and staff and so many others who support us. I act on their behalf, not with any agenda other than their well-being as all of us work to prepare these university students for the future. While I expect that a resolution of this matter can be reached that will enable Dr. McCaskill to continue as our Chief Diversity Officer, this will require that she and the University community work together to respond to the concerns that have been raised.
McCaskill said she was approached by a faculty member two weeks ago and was asked if she had signed the position. McCaskill said that faculty member and her partner wrote to President Hurwitz.
"No one has the right to decide what my signature meant," McCaskill said.
J. Wyndal Gordon, McCaskill's attorney, said Monday that she is not “anti-gay,” and he noted that she has not expressed her personal view on the matter. She will do that in the voting booth, he said.
According to her lawyer, McCaskill signed the petition after a church sermon on marriage, Bensen reported.
She thanked Gov. Martin O'Malley, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Reid Temple AME Church's senior pastor, the Rev. Lee P. Washington, for their support.
McCaskill, who lives in Upper Marlboro, was placed on leave last week. Gordon said he is exploring legal options to get her reinstated.
Gallaudet is the nation's leading university for the deaf and the hard of hearing.