US: diversity officer suspended over gay marriage petition

A deaf, black, female diversity officer at an American university has been suspended after she signed a petition calling for a marriage referendum.

Dr Angela McCaskill has been put on paid leave by bosses at Gallaudet University, in Washington DC, while they “investigate” her.

Politicians in Maryland forced through a law which will allow gay marriages from 2013, but enough people signed a petition to win a state-wide referendum on the law.

Complaint

Dr McCaskill signed that petition, and a complaint was raised against her to the university authorities.

A statement issued by university President, Dr T Alan Hurwitz, said: “I have placed Dr Angela McCaskill on paid administrative leave effective immediately.

“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.

Investigation

“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.”

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage in the US said: “No American, whether he or she is for or against gay marriage, should be afraid to vote, to sign petitions, to donate or to speak — with civility of course! — in support of that position.”

Criticism

And pro-gay marriage activists have also voiced their criticism of the university’s actions.

Josh Levin, of campaign group Marylanders for Marriage Equality, says that Dr McCaskill “should be reinstated immediately”.

Brian Brown said: “African-American Christians, it seems to me, are paying a disproportionate price for exercising these core civil rights to speak, to vote, to donate and to organize on behalf of marriage and traditional views on sexuality. Consider these examples:

Fired

“Crystal Dixon, an administrator at the University of Toledo, was fired after writing a letter (as a private citizen) to the editor of the Toledo Free Press. The letter respectfully opposed the notion of gay rights and explained God’s plan for human beings. Activists later tried to keep a city from hiring her.

“In New Jersey, a special education teacher, Viki Knox, wrote a message on her personal Facebook page criticizing the school’s promotion of a ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month.’ Activist groups and others have demanded that she be fired, and have planned protests targeting her.

“The lawyer who began the attack on Knox said: ‘Hateful public comments from a teacher cannot be tolerated. She has a right to say it. But she does not have a right to keep her job after saying it.’

Threats

“This week The Star-Ledger reports that, under ongoing pressure and threats not only to her job but to her pension, Viki Knox has chosen to resign!

“And in Michigan, Julea Ward, a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University, was dismissed from that school’s counseling program after asking for permission to refer a client to another counselor because she was uncomfortable affirming that client’s same-sex relationship.”

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