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It’s Getting Very Ugly in Maryland (Updated)

Jim Burroway

October 16th, 2012

Angela McCaskill speaking at a Press Conference in Annapolis

The Washington Blade has the full details of a press conference held today by Callaudet University’s chief diversity officer, Angela McCaskill, who was placed on paid administrative leave after a previously unidentified faculty member learned that McCaskill had signed a petition to place Question 6 on the Maryland ballot. McCaskill identified the faculty members as Martina Mienvenu and Kendra Smith. According to The Blade:

“I was shocked, hurt, insulted. I was humiliated,” she said, adding that Hurwitz sought to punish her for merely exercising her private right as a Maryland resident to sign a petition to allow the voters to make the final decision on whether the same-sex marriage law should be retained or overturned.

“They have attempted to intimidate me and tarnish my reputation,” she said.

…McCaskill stated repeatedly that she remains neutral on the gay marriage ballot referendum. She said her decision to sign the petition to place the marriage question on the ballot was based on her strong belief that all controversial issues should be put before the voters in Maryland.

She said she is a strong supporter of the LGBT community and noted that she has pushed for funding for Gallaudet’s one-year-old Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Ally (LGBTQA) Resource Center

There’s another way in which this is getting really ugly. Also appearing at the news conference was Maryland State Rep. Aisha Braveboy, chair of the legislature’s Black Caucus. Noting that caucus members fall on both sides of Question 6, she told reporters that the Caucus was “highly troubled” that McCaskell was being penalized for participating in the petition and referendum process. African-American support for Question 6 risen significantly since January, but that could be jeopardinzed if McCaskill is seen as being penalized for exercising her rights as a voter. There are far, far too many ugly historical precedents in our country’s racial history for that to go unnoticed.

Update: Gov. Martin O’Mally, who supports Question 6, has joined Marylanders for Marriage Equality in calling for McCaskill’s reinstatement. “Everyone has a right to their opinion, and everyone has a right to participate in the political process,” Gov. O’Malley said in a statement. Lt Gov. Anthony Brown, another Question 6 supporter, has also called for McCaskill’s reinstatement. Meanwhile, opponents of Question 6 told the Baltimore Sun that they will run television commercials “using the Gallaudet incident as an example of the intolerance they say would accompany passage of Question 6.”



Lindoro Almaviva
October 16th, 2012 | LINK

So by her philosophy, there should have been a vote to 1. Give black people the right to vote 2. Give blacks the right to own property 3. Give blacks the right to marry the person of their own choosing (Screw Mildred Loving, right?) 4. Abolish slavery 5. End segregation

Those were ALL very controversial issues back in the day and thus she is stating that they were decided following the wrong process because they should have been decided by a referendum ballot. I mean, that is exactly what she is saying, unless i am seeing things.

October 16th, 2012 | LINK

As much I it sucks a Diversity Officer would be ignorant enough to want to put people’s rights up for a vote, I wish the school had just ignored the issue for now. Its too volatile in MD right now.

Though it is interesting to note that in her press conference she thanks Josh Levin right alongside Tony Perkins. Wonder how Josh feels about that.

Bose in St. Peter MN
October 16th, 2012 | LINK

Sure seems like some long-simmering stuff is surfacing here. An officer of any org doesn’t put herself in a positive light by referring to a colleague as an “extremist”.

Casting President Hurwitz’ suspension as retaliation, punishment, and termination, if true, speak to facts not yet available. His public comments have been focused on carefully weighing all of the factors in play.

Having Josh Levin of Marylanders for Marriage Equality on her side, I thought she was well positioned to work with Hurwitz, the Gallaudet LGBTQA Resource Center, and the rest of the Gallaudet community to forge a workable result. I was expecting a nominal half-apology (in my unique role as Chief Diversity Officer, I realize my actions may have been misconstrued) paired with a heartfelt recommit to the Resource Center and personal bridge-building campus-wide.

Instead, a minefield has been laid.

One of the core competencies for serving as a diversity officer is understanding that basic civil rights have generally lost at the ballot box for a long time before being accepted as basic civil rights. If she doesn’t stay at Gallaudet, Liberty U might create a Diversity Officer position for McCaskill, but beyond that, her credibility on diversity is severely compromised.

I hate being this cynical, but doesn’t McCaskill’s press conference read as if it was choreographed by NOM?

October 16th, 2012 | LINK

At best, she doesn’t understand how broad the diversity field is, or the multiplicity of the issues LGBTQ persons face in life. That shortcoming alone is reason enough to move her out of her diversity assignment.

It’s not the signature on the petition that’s the question; the signature is legal, and she has a right to it. But the whole belief system that allows the signature, and that now defends it, is indeed a problem, and its revelation is a serious matter.

Either she doesn’t fully understand the matters that her job involves, or she is engaged in a charade of understanding for which he is paid, and she has now been exposed. In either case, she does damage, tolerates damage, proposes damage that has lasting effect in the lives of LGBTQ persons. Including me.

October 16th, 2012 | LINK

…and we just lost Maryland. Low information people will honestly believe the bald faced lie that she is neutral on marriage equality and that a good Christian woman is being attacked for her opinion. Gay students at the school will know for certain they have to ally at the school. And yes, we totally lost Maryland. Maybe Washington and Maine, too. This is a story tailor-made for NOM. This woman even thanked the human excrement known as Tony Perkins.

Bose in St. Peter MN
October 16th, 2012 | LINK

Hey Lindoro…

In my mind, the more relevant concern is that deaf people have been denied the right to vote and raise their own children not so long ago.

As ridiculous as it sounds now, so-called “experts” promoted the idea that people who could not hear were also “dumb”, and that people whose first language was ASL could not be good parents to non-deaf children (or any child, for that matter).

I agree that deciding the civil rights of minorities at the ballot box is a bad idea. It’s safe to say that many/most Deaf communities are on the same page.

Timothy Kincaid
October 16th, 2012 | LINK

So… if they keep her, are they going to do ANYTHING for the kids? Or is it “you’re on your own and we are NOT here for you”?

Timothy Kincaid
October 16th, 2012 | LINK

“Meanwhile, opponents of Question 6 told the Baltimore Sun that they will run television commercials “using the Gallaudet incident as an example of the intolerance they say would accompany passage of Question 6.””

And when we do – without a word of protest from McCaskill – we will know for absolutely certain that she is and has been the wrong person for the job.

I wonder if we could run some of the gay kids in ads? They could just say that they are confused and hurt and don’t know who to turn to now that she’s running ads against them.

Peter Bravegirl
October 16th, 2012 | LINK

Maryland State Rep. Aisha Braveboy is anti-gay and sponsored an Same-Sex marriage ban in the Constitution which narrowly failed. If McCaskill is neutral then why have her at the press conference.

The gay students McCaskill loves so much have a right to get married in DC. Not supporting that right is not a good thing.

October 16th, 2012 | LINK

It is of interesting note she is now seeking damages for a PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE.

October 16th, 2012 | LINK

Outright firing her seems to be more and more appealing

October 17th, 2012 | LINK

I see a fairly simple solution to this problem: put her continued employment up to a vote of the university faculty and students.

I cant imagine any reason she would object.

October 17th, 2012 | LINK

What a fraud this lady is. I’d love to see the face of all these African Americans if gay white people had come to them and told them that school segregation should have been submitted to a popular vote.

October 17th, 2012 | LINK

Guys – just saying… did I not predict everything that came to pass here, down to the lawsuit over the tarnishing of her reputation?

Talk about losing the war… this may well have just single-handedly cost us the first year that we had an advantage — in 4 states, and cost us every gain we have made in the African American community this year.

I haven’t seen the numbers, but I understand the mechanics of identity politics. This could set us back years.

F-ing idiots. So glad everyone here feels morally superior. The rest of us would kind of like to get married if you could get out of our way now.

Donny D.
October 17th, 2012 | LINK

When I saw Dr. McCaskill publicly siding with Tony Perkins and taking on the rhetoric and victim-posturing of the anti-gay movement, this started to look like a case of a real bigot being caught at her bigotry.

But then it occurred to me that Dr. McCaskill is a middle-aged deaf black woman whose employment by the one employer she’s had for most or all of her working life is being threatened, during this dire economy. And who, if she loses this job, will be trying to get hired elsewhere in the wake of a messy public firing. If she had gotten along well with her employer until just now, she may be feeling rattled enough that it’s affected her judgement. So she might be less particular than she normally would be about whom she associates with, feeling that she can’t afford to turn down allies. As to her talking like a node in the anti-gay machine, she might be acting on bad advice from some of these newfound friends. And feeling embattled and isolated can sharpen anyone’s tone.

Or this is the real Angela McCaskill coming through.

The offer of university president Hurwitz for her to come back to work was hardly unconditional, and the quoted text from that public offer read condescendingly, like the prodigal employee needs to find her way back so the good, benevolent university administration can help her see the error of her ways and put her back on track. I’m not sure Hurwitz actually is offering anything new here.

Meanwhile, McCaskill has just taken what looks like a newly aggressive legal stance.

If there’s some kind of legal jockeying for position here, I’m not understanding it.

I feel as though there is information that is not public that is necessary to fully understand what is going on here.

I’ve read on the ‘Net that some think the university’s actions here are flatly illegal.

October 17th, 2012 | LINK

“Members of Psalm 100 voted unanimously to remove senior Will Thomason, who is gay, on Aug. 28 for his views on homosexuality.

Crisp said the University did not find enough evidence to conclude that the group’s expulsion of Thomason was based on his sexual orientation rather than his beliefs.”

Tell me about equality…

October 17th, 2012 | LINK

I fully expect to be allowed to vote on whether Black Americans should be allowed to marry.

October 17th, 2012 | LINK


If you can’t make your point without calling people names, it’s not a very good point.

Mark F.
October 17th, 2012 | LINK

“I fully expect to be allowed to vote on whether Black Americans should be allowed to marry.”

I’d have no trouble with such a vote as it would easily pass in every state.

Look, the fact is we had better get used to these public votes because that is how our system works.

October 17th, 2012 | LINK

Actually, a couple of years ago Mississippi voted to keep parts of the constitution mandating school segregation. Which of course was championed by the Christians. Interracial marriage didn’t get plurality support until the 90s. Make no mistake. The southern US is still as racist as it is anti-gay.

And people should make every effort to oppose this abuse of the referendum system. It doesn’t need to be abolished. Just modified to limit the laws its can be used for.

October 17th, 2012 | LINK

Mark F, pubic votes are exactly how it *doesn’t* work. I find it odd/hilarious that you think a vote on African American rights would be just fine because it would for sure pass. You might want to run that by some black people, first. The indignity of even having to beg strangers for rights is not something any American should be subject to. It’s odd you’re willing to settle.

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