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Diversity chief: my reputation is tarnished
Angela McCaskill was suspended after it was revealed she signed a petition for a referendum on same-sex marriage.
October 17th, 2012
04:28 PM ET

Diversity chief: my reputation is tarnished

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – She was the first deaf, African-American woman to earn a doctorate from Gallaudet University. It seemed Angela McCaskill was the perfect choice to serve as that university's chief diversity officer.

And she was, until last week when the president of Gallaudet, the nation's leading higher education institution for the deaf, placed McCaskill on paid administrative leave.

Why?

Because a faculty member had informed the school that McCaskill admitted to signing a petition that put Maryland's same-sex marriage law to a statewide vote.

McCaskill kept her silence for many days but Tuesday, she came out swinging, demanding compensation from Gallaudet for the stress and harm done to her reputation. She insists she is not anti-gay; she simply wanted to exercise her political rights.

"No one had the right to determine what my signature meant," said McCaskill through an interpreter at an outdoor news conference in front of the Maryland statehouse. She was joined at the podium by members of the state's legislative black caucus, including some who voted in favor of the same-sex marriage law.

Watch McCaskill's news conference

"They have attempted to intimidate me," McCaskill said of university officials. "They have tarnished my reputation and 24 years of service. This situation has spiraled out of control.

She said her record at Gallaudet spoke for itself.

"I ask to be judged by what I have done," she said.

Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz suspended McCaskill last week, saying that the university needed time to determine whether McCaskill's signature was appropriate.

"As many know, Dr. McCaskill exercised her right to sign a petition concerning legislation on gay marriage," Hurwitz said in a statement Tuesday. "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?' "

Hurwitz acknowledged that the matter had gone far beyond campus borders.

Both supporters and opponents of gay marriage have come out in support of McCaskill.

McCaskill said she is not anti-gay.

“Signing that petition is a right that I have as a citizen of the state of Maryland," McCaskill told CNN affiliate WJLA. "It simply means that I want to see this very sensitive issue put on the ballot as a referendum in the state of Maryland."

The same-sex marriage referendum is on the ballot in November.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality condemned her suspension in a full-page ad in The Capital newspaper.

"Unfortunately, opponents of marriage equality are trying to make what happened to Dr. McCaskill about Question 6, the November ballot measure that will allow gay and lesbian couples to get a civil marriage license and protects religious freedom," it said.

"But her suspension from a D.C. university has nothing to do with Question 6 in Maryland. It does however have everything to do with being able to express one’s opinions, freely, and participate in the political process. As an American, Dr. McCaskill has every right to her view on marriage – and that includes signing the petition to put the issue to a public referendum."

The group called for immediate reinstatement.

"Business and personal decisions need to be kept separate," Gallaudet student Tracis Zornoza told CNN affiliate WJLA.

Joy Pullmann of Chicago wrote a letter to the editor to the Baltimore Sun: "So much for the academic freedom universities promise they uphold, and so much for U.S. tradition of and laws protecting our right to free speech."

Others said they were disappointed that someone who holds a diversity post acted in such a way.

"She’s been a great ally to the LGBT community and ... I’m heartbroken about this," a Gallaudet student told Planet DeafQueer. The student was not identified.

Hurwitz said he hoped for a resolution that would enable McCaskill to return to her job.

But McCaskill said she was shocked, humiliated and ultimately dismayed that Gallaudet seemed to be a place of intolerance for differing views.

soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Jaquelyn Rounds

    As a transgender person who had successful M to F surgery in 1998 and an active member of a Diversity and inclusion committee at a major Chicago University Hospital, it strikes me as odd that when it comes to the hearing impaired there is a diversity officer, when ot comes to LGBTQ she is not allowed to support diversity. Many of my closest friends are hearing impaired and Lesbian and Gayincluding the gal that sent this to me. Diversity censored is not diversity at all. Dr. McCaskill should be reinstrated immediately with a public apology in print. We at this University do not put clauses around what diversity is but we celebrate and encourage it. Jaquelyn Rounds B.A.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CW

    I stopped reading when I saw diversity officer. Talk about a made-up job.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    I wonder if she would also support a vote on the rights of African Americans. I guess she's more than deaf, she's also dumb.

    October 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Please stop! Beating someone to death is entirely different from denying someone marriage license.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. scbadvr888

    McCaskill was hired, and put into this position to make sure policies regarding diversity were adhered to, and that diversity was implemented accordingly. If she has been making sure that these duties were met, then she has done nothing wrong. Her actions have indeed spoken for her ability to do the job properly. How she feels about issues personally, have no bearing on her holding this position, as long as her personal beliefs do not interfere with her ability to follow the guidelines of her job. Police officers deal with this on a daily basis. Maybe one cop thinks that pot should be legalized or another thinks that all pedophiles should be put to death. But unless those cops fail to follow the laws and not follow proper procedure, they have done their jobs. A job does not define a person. How they perform their job does. A garbage man is no less of a person than say a doctor. Each performs a valuable service to society.

    October 22, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dr Gene Bourquin

    When we put her right to marry to a vote, then I'll have some empathy.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • geeky

      EXACTLY! Thank you.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • laura

      I agree wholeheartedly.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • peick

      The way supporters of gay marriage frame the issue is dishonest. Both gays and straight have the same legal rights to marry an individual of the opposite gender. They also both face the same restriction of not being able to marry someone of the same gender. So it's all equal right out of the gate.

      What gay marriage supporters want is a social innovation that has not existed in the past. That is not a right. That is something new. So be honest about it. You may still want gay marriage, but stop calling it equality because you're already equal. Call it new privileges or something.

      But you won't. You'll keep playing the victim card because it scores you more points with the sentimental public.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Marlin

      Why do people keep missing the point.

      It doesn't say if she is pro or anti gay marriage. All she wanted was a vote about it. She could easily be pro gay marriage and simply want a vote so that it gets more legitimacy.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
      • Jeannette

        that the Indiana theaters inlevvod will be Showplace East Cinemas 18 in Evansville, Kerasotes Showplace 16 in Schererville, and Kerasotes Showplace 12 West in Indianapolis. That last one sounds like the Traders Point Kerasotes, but on the Thursday night showtimes page for the Indianapolis-area Kerasotes Theatres, the only one with a showing of Stark Raving Black is the Kerasotes Showplace 16 and IMAX on the south side, which has one showing, at 8 PM.The other Thursday night event is an encore presentation of the RiffTrax gang taking on Plan 9 from Outer Space. This will be shown at 7:30 PM, October 8, at the Castleton Square 14, the Kerasotes 16 and IMAX, and the Hamilton 16 in Noblesville, along with theaters in Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Mishawaka, Schereville and Valparaiso. Go to the Fathom Events page for more info on this one.

        November 15, 2012 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lou Cypher

    HAHAHA What delicious and poetic justice in seeing a diversity nazi getting a smackdown for intolerance.

    October 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      Diversity – as long as you believe what I believe...

      October 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. kelstockdale

    If we take a look at the administration at Gallaudet University, the majority are led by white, hearing professionals that happen to be prejudiced. Deaf people on staff at Gally are usually not in leadership or higher administration positions. These positions are reserved for the white, hearing people who have led Deaf Education into the ground. I think it would be two faced for university to call out Angela ,without calling themselves out.

    October 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. OT

      I totally agree.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • CW

      How dare white people lead anything!

      October 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tim Boyer

    Has President Obama weighed in on this issue? If so, could someone please post a link–I'd like to see what he had to say.

    Thanks.

    October 20, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
    • scbadvr888

      Why Tim? You can't make up your own mind without getting Obama's input first? That would make you just the perfect kind of sheep the Obama administration is looking for.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. demopin

    SOme lawyers are about to get rich

    October 19, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. josh rogen

    once again people look at things that don't really make us different like gender and race and call it diversity, yet diversity of thought goes mostly ignored

    October 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Krandal

    a little polish will clean that right up.

    October 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Disgusted american

    I want to Vote on her rights as 1) a woman 2) a black woman – thank u!

    October 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. fiftyfive55

    Guess she doesnt like being tarnished,you know,how she tarnishes others for doing the same things she does.Oh what a wicked web they weave.

    October 19, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. TheMaven

    Ah, liberal tolerance is an amazing thing.

    We'll tolerate you as long as you agree with us.

    October 19, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim Boyer

      Well said.

      October 20, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. WWRRD

    Now the liberal dog is biting one of it's own. So much for the "tolerance".

    October 19, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • WWRRD

      I guess 'diversity" doesn't include diversity of opinion.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
      • Fred Evil

        Not if your 'diverse opinion' means you get to dictate others freedoms.
        Freedom is paramount here. When did others get to vote on YOUR freedoms?

        October 19, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • wjmknight

      If she is against marraige equality, she's not a liberal.

      October 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  16. aurum24k

    Welcome to our Socialist Utopia Comrade McCaskill. You have no rights. Your only right and duty is to serve the state. One wrong move and it's off to "Siberia" so to speak. You of all peaople should have known better.

    October 19, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  17. Desert Dweller

    There is no way the Supreme Court of The United States would side with the university on this.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Joe the Plumber

    Wow, the first of anything from the very prestigious Gallaudet college is quite an amazing accomplishment. "sarcasm"

    October 18, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Rick McDaniel

    Sounds anti-gay to me.

    October 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Karen

    It's pretty clear to me we no longer have Freedom of Speech. We are only free to agree with what is politically correct.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • retphxfire

      Seems to me you and a lot of other citizens (except the ones who have to pass a test to be a citizen) have no idea what the First Amendment says and/or means. Your speech is protected from government censor, not private organizations or citizens. In some cases it's just simple editing, but many hypocrites scream First Amendment when they are edited or even when shown their comments are false..."It's my opinion...", then they yell again when people who agree with their views are edited. sheesh

      October 18, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Bible Clown©

    A diversity director who feels things like this should be settled by a vote needs to be working in fast food.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      There would be no issue at all if she were not in charge of DIVERSITY! May as well hire someone that is against mixed race marriage or mixed race campuses.

      October 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • Disgusted american

        exactly – she's made a fool of herself. When can I Vote on Her RIGHTS???? She obviously NEVER had to FIGHT for her RIGHTS..she lives OFF the backs of those who fought and Died for Her RIGHTS.....Pathetic.

        October 19, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  22. sss

    Yea, if she were something else I'd understand (teacher, janitor, counselor) , but she is the DIVERSITY chief, she can not do what she did and expect it to be ok. She should have kept it to herself, like most white people keep racist thoughts.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bible Clown©

      "kept it to herself, like most white people keep racist thoughts." Where I live, they openly fly the Confederate flag and put up billboards telling Obama to kiss off. You must live in a nicer place than the Rancid South.

      October 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Bible Clown©

    My perception of this is the same as everyone else's, namely that she's anti-gay. A lot of black people still eat at Chick-Fil-A, and that's their privilege, but they need to wake up. Let's put slavery up for a vote, too?

    October 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Teresa

    Her political believes should have nothing to do with her job. She should not hae been terminated. Se should be reinstated to her job. She should receive a public appoligize from galludet.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1234elguapo

      If we get rid of all the educators who bring their political beliefs to their jobs, we might have 2 or 3 educators left nationwide

      October 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
      • Zebula

        We're talking about a DIVERSITY chief here, what part of that don't you understand? She should be fired.

        October 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  25. PJ

    Most substance abuse counselors don't do crack at home. Yes, this is a VERY valid concern. I guess HER "diversity" is different from everyone else's. FIRED. BYE. HIT TH' ROAD. You have no place in that job.

    October 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zebula

      *Liked*

      October 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  26. NorCalMojo

    Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    October 18, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  27. John

    Does this really surprise anyone? Our university and college system is a living infection of left wing facists. Freedom of speech only exists if you toe the party line, otherwise, they will seek to destroy your reputation. I hope the university is sued and forced to pay millions to this woman.

    October 18, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan Halen

      Actually, freedom of speech is fine until you start crossing the line and denying rights to others. I guess you don't get that part.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • JPowers

        Who's right were taken away? She just wanted all to vote on it, not just accept someone telling her what to believe.
        It seems her right to choose is the rights you mean are being stolen, Jackwad.

        October 18, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • MarkinFL

        Perhaps we should put it to the vote to see if blacks should be allowed in the same schools as whites. I mean its the democratic way, right?

        Give me a break.

        And this has nothing to do with the 1st amendment.

        October 18, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Oakspar77777

    Diversity's strength lies in having different opinions for the purpose of conflict and debate to enhance critical thinking on campus, correct?

    Discriminating against someone for opposing SS marriage would reduce the amount of diversity. I'm soundly against SS marriage, but that does not mean that I dont' want people who are for SS marriage on my campus – I certainly want them here so that the students with my viewpoint have the oppurtunity to debate and reason out their arguments.

    Having opposing viewpoints strengthens both sides of the argument and leads to students thinking logically and rationally about their beliefs. The only reson I would not want diversity would be if I was afraid that free thinking students would not come to, but diverge from, the positions I hold. I am not afraid of that because I honestly am convinced in the superior arguements against SS Marriage.

    If G Univ lacks the integrity of their beliefs in SS Marriage to the point that they will suspend or fire descent, it speaks to a small minded staff who are afraid of open debate because of the weakness of their position. That they would be against any referendum on the issue would be a reflection of this insecurity, since those referendums accross the country (including California) have soundly voiced the common opinion against SS Marriage.

    She should enjoy her paid vacation for as many years as they are willing to pay it, and she should sue them the second they consider terminating her or reinstating her with anything other than a public apology and reasonable promotion for time off.

    October 18, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Zebula

      You talk too much and say too little of value, hater.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kay

        There was nothing hateful in what Oakspar wrote. Indeed, it was well thought out. Your comment, on the other hand *was* hateful. And petty, too.

        October 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Equality means everyone has the Legal option to match their Religious option.

      Public opinion was against interracial marriage too. If it had been up for referendum some states still might be banning it. And whole host of other civil rights issues. Sometimes 'everybody' is wrong. Also if you read about the really awful lies that anti – gay marriage advocates where canvassing communities in California with you might change your mind on how well informed that decision was. The MD law specifically states that no once can be required to marry someone it is against their religion to marry. It pertains strictly to the civil, legal marriage that in the US is separate from religious marriage. Your religion is not everyone's religion and it is against any conceivable interpretation of religious freedom to say that only your religions marriage should be considered legally valid in civil law.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • ctc1066

      The most cogent response on the whole board. Thanks for an adult perspective on the matter

      October 20, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  29. Monica

    She didn't offer an opinion about LGBT issues, she offered an opinion about whether or not citizens should be able to vote on an issue presenting in their state, as opposed to having legislators foist a decision on them. Is it ever wrong to express that voters should be able to vote??

    October 18, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      "She didn't offer an opinion about LGBT issues" Oh yes she did, genius. The ballot question is whether or not to allow gay marriage so how could it not be about LGBT issues? Putting the rights of a minority group up for a vote is completely immoral.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      I agree, Monica. But people like Frank apparently have a great deal of difficulty seeing the forest for the trees.

      October 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Equality means everyone has the Legal option to match their Religious option.

      Citizens vote for legislators. They already had a vote. Those legislators they voted for carefully crafted a law that makes civil marriage open to those wishing to marry the same gender while protecting those religions that do not allow it from having to accommodate it. Putting civil rights issues for minority populations to referendum only serves to give the people in the majority who really care about denying them a chance to drown out the people who don't care one way or another. If interracial marriage was up for referendum there would still be states that ban it. Personally I'm going to hope my state (and I live in MD) sends a resounding message to the haters and anti-religious freedom crowd this lady is part off. Namely that civil legal options for marriage should exist for every option. I'm Catholic BTW. This bill forces nothing on me, while allowing others who don't share my religion to join in legal marriage- an entirely different thing from my marriage and one that affects me not at all.

      October 18, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred Evil

      " Is it ever wrong to express that voters should be able to vote??"
      Should voters get to vote on YOUR freedoms? Should we get to vote that blondes are not allowed to marry?
      Think it through....

      October 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joyce

      Hi Rebecca I love October too!!!Halloween has always been my frtvaioe time of year. I love the magic that floats in the air when things aren't always quite as they seem You can try on a mask and be something you're not and play like you did when you were a kid!As they sing in Nightmare Before Christmas Tender lumplings everywhere,Life's no fun without a good scare BOO!Great blog!Lisa

      November 17, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  30. wrm

    "university's chief diversity officer."

    Really? They have these? How funny.

    October 18, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  31. EveryoneButYou

    Diversity is not "inclusive" except of those views and positions that are considered politically correct; it's biased and bigoted toward those who hold non-PC views and is inherently discriminatory.

    October 18, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  32. Chick-a-dee

    @Ragebrain: Read it again. The article says that a co-worker reported that she had admitted to having signed the peti.tion. It does not reveal where or when she did the signing. It also leaves how the coworker acquired this information as a mystery. Signing a peti.tion is a right each American has. It's called participating in the democratic political process. Posting an opinion on whether she should have been placed on leave or not means the poster has made assumptions that are unsubstanciated.

    October 18, 2012 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
  33. Fosboo

    Lol "kept her silence" in a deaf article.

    October 18, 2012 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Deaflady

      She is not saying anything (not signing)

      October 18, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • KJM

      Last time I checked most deaf people can talk. Try living in a deaf community. Danville, KY, home of The School for the Deaf. Also, where the vice presidential debate was held.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  34. eville11

    well taking up the wrong side of a liberal issue while working for a university is pretty much the " bullet in foot".

    October 18, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  35. da truth

    “I ask to be judged by what I have done,” she said.
    Sounds like something penn state would say about joepa

    October 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  36. da truth

    And she should be fired, she signed it in front of a "co worker" presumably on company time, I've worked for several company's that have told me the signing of pettions on company time or company property would result in termination.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Who said she signed it in front of a co-worker or on university time? You must have some inside information that the writer of the article doesn't. And I am writing this reply on company time.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
      • asp4ever47

        she signed it at church, in the summer time. Wasnt on company time!

        October 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  37. EKIA

    Chief Diversity Officer is a ridiculous position. She should get a legitimate job where she can express her political views without fear of recrimination.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  38. DMG2FUN

    04:28 PM ET

    Diversity =Racism!

    October 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  39. RageBrain

    After reading this article it's safe to say that the company didn't want her to represent their views on the LGBT issue. With that saying, she only got fired or misplaced only because she didn't follow the regulations of how to go about volunteering her POV about politics.

    October 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • KJM

      She didn't reveal anything about her POV. She just signed to put it up for vote. Dont think she mentioned whether she was for or against it.

      October 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • geeky

        If they had put her rights up for a vote in 1964, she'd still be riding at the back of the bus, her kids would be going to segregated schools, and she wouldn't have the position she has.

        October 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |