A deaf, black, female diversity officer who was suspended for signing a petition calling for a marriage referendum has demanded to be reinstated.
Dr Angela McCaskill, the Chief Diversity Officer at Gallaudet University in America, says she felt “shocked, hurt, insulted” and “humiliated” by the punishment.
The 54-year-old, who has worked at the university for more than 24 years, was put on paid administrative leave last week.
But speaking though an interpreter at a press conference on Tuesday she said: “I thought it was important that as a citizen of the state of Maryland I could exercise my right to participate in the political process. I am pro-democracy.”
Same-sex marriages are set to be allowed in Maryland from 2013 after politicians forced through a law.
However, enough people signed a petition to win a state-wide referendum on the new law in November.
Dr McCaskill was one of those who signed the petition, leading to a complaint being raised against her with the university authorities.
The university’s president defended the suspension on Tuesday, claiming it was “prudent” as it would allow both parties to examine whether signing the petition would interfere with Dr McCaskil’s role as chief diversity officer.
Dr T Alan Hurwitz added: “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.”
But Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council, said: “We are deeply troubled that University President Alan Hurwitz is engaging in further voter intimidation by telling Dr. McCaskill that he expects concessions from her before she is allowed to return to work.
“He did not state the nature of the concessions but what is very clear is the message he wants to send to Dr. McCaskill and the nearly 200,000 Maryland voters who signed the ballot petition: If you support giving voters the right to vote on marriage, you risk losing your livelihood.”