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McCaskill back at Gallaudet

Timothy Kincaid

January 8th, 2013

ABC

Gallaudet University has reinstated its chief diversity officer after a 3-month paid suspension for signing a petition circulated by opponents of gay marriage in Maryland.

University President T. Alan Hurwitz announced the reinstatement of Angela McCaskill in an email to the campus community on Monday. The statement doesn’t elaborate on the reasons for the reinstatement, and university officials declined further comment.

The reappointment was made while students were on break. planet.queerdeaf.com is not pleased

We are extremely disappointed to learn that Dr. Angela McCaskill, who signed an anti-gay petition to bring marriage equality up for vote in Maryland, has been reinstated in her position at Gallaudet as Chief Diversity Officer.

As for McCaskill,

“I am not anti-gay. I never have been and I never will be,” says McCaskill.

No, no, of course not. Heavens to Murgatroyd, how could anyone have gotten that impression.

Comments

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Lindoro Almaviva
January 8th, 2013 | LINK

Well, I wonder how effective she will be in the position. Apparently someone forgot to tell her that this is not one of those positions where if you show 9-5 you are pretty much getting the job done. Apparently someone forgot to tell this lady that this is one of those positions where if you do not have your integrity intact, you are pretty much ineffective.

Lets hope the students will see through that and make some changes happen.

MattNYC
January 8th, 2013 | LINK

You know. Maybe I am just feeling charitable (e.g., accepting Ambassador Hormel’s acceptance of Sen. Hagel’s apology), but considering how she tried to excise herself out of NOM’s Maryland campaign, I am willing to give her a chance. I obviously can’t speak for the students she betrayed, but why not give her an opportunity to clear the air now that the storm has blown over.

I might be feeling differently if the vote had gone against us…

tim
January 9th, 2013 | LINK

I obviously can’t speak for the students she betrayed

She showed incredibly poor judgement by signing the petition and risked losing students due to the appearance of not being a welcoming institution. To me that is enough to terminate her.

However – at no time – did any evidence appear she was doing her job poorly or “betrayed” anyone. Existing student or otherwise.

Andrew
January 9th, 2013 | LINK

What a load of hooey – NO ONE should have to give up personal beliefs or allow their employer to dictate private, legal, legally protected activity in one’s private time. She didn’t argue against gay marriage, she made the mistake of believing it should be a matter of consensus (while I disagree, this is not at all rare among those outside our community – including well-meaning but shallow-thinking allies… and is absolutely NOT reflexively identical to agitating against gays) — in fact, this could easily have been her failed way of being at peace both with her religious community (because the petition signing was public) and the LGBT community she serves (because favoring petitioning for a vote is not the same thing as casting that vote against gays — even though I could explain to her how offensive it is, and the LGBT community at Galludet no doubt has).

We don’t know how she ultimately voted on the issue (which, by the way, is none of your – or my – business). We DO know that prior to this farce, she had a stellar record with the LGBT community at Galludet, and was instrumental in enfranchising the community there.

Let me be 100% clear. No one on this site, NOT ONE PERSON (except maybe Timothy K.), would abide for an instant any employer taking action against an employee because s/he was gay. Frankly, I’m floored by the hypocrisy of so many here, who feel that some rules apply when they favor themselves, but conveniently toss those out the window the moment it suits them.

And, I’m even more appalled by the blithe naivete of those who would happily hand that kind of power – to intrude into our private lives, our political decisions, and our activities within our own church – to EMPLOYERS (?!) Are we all ignorant of the debate within the past 6 months that would have handed the right to selectively redact specific covered procedures or medications under medical insurance based on the moral whims of employers? How many HIV-positive employees do you suppose would lose their prescription coverage in that event, exactly?

Lastly, let’s be pragmatic – it is very likely that McCaskill would have kicked Galludet’s ass in court – this had freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom to petition written all over it… (those are rights protecting citizens from government, but there’s also Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964)… Galludet knew it, McCaskill knew it. The university lawyers scrambled to find accommodation. Had that case gone forward, you’d have handed not only an unwilling martyr to the anti-Gay crowd, not only a very high profile Proof-Positive of “how you’re going to lose your rights to free speech and religious expression if gay marriage becomes law” for them to run in every TV ad going forward… but also a blueprint to fighting pro-gay movements across the country.

Folks, we function as Americans first, and LGBT members afterward – because we either all aspire to the same rights, or we all lose them together. For a bunch of people who have fought so hard and waited so long to achieve equality in this country, this just seems remarkably selfish, vituperative, and self-destructively short-sighted.

MattNYC
January 9th, 2013 | LINK

Andrew, on paper you are correct. I’m not a lawyer and especially not an employment lawyer, so I can’t determine what would or wouldn’t fly in court (or sway a jury).

However, some have argued here–right or wrong–that her action was a sign of incompetence given her job description. Her job is in the role of an “advocate” of equality and diversity and by her actions–even off-duty–she actively advocated putting civil rights to a vote (regardless of her own opinion or how she voted, which are private).

I was among those who thought a suspension was the correct route. I thought firing was too harsh a punishment.

Ian
January 9th, 2013 | LINK

I personally think that McCaskill is incapable of becoming the chief diversity officer as she is unable to differentiate between keeping prejudiced personal views and performing actions that may lead to inequality.

When McCaskill signed the petition, there is only one reason; she agrees with the bill and disagrees with the freedom to choose.

I would probably be against casual anonymous sex, but if there was a bill to criminalize that, i would not support it. Why? I believe in the freedom to choose, this bill has to do with the state and not me personally, it does not require me to hold such a view that casual anonymous sex is okay. My freedom is not infringed if the bill fails, but the freedom of others to choose will be infringed when the bill passes.

I don’t see a reason why she should be allowed to sign the petition and remain as a CDO. Don’t think it is illegal to fire a muslim from refusing to work in a pig slaughterhouse when he knows what the job requires when he first applied for it; or a bar as a bartender, in a gay bar.

Ian
January 9th, 2013 | LINK

I personally think that McCaskill is incapable of becoming the chief diversity officer as she is unable to differentiate between keeping prejudiced personal views and performing actions that may lead to inequality.

When McCaskill signed the petition, there is only one reason; she agrees with the bill and disagrees with the freedom to choose.

I would probably be against casual anonymous sex, but if there was a bill to criminalize that, i would not support it. Why? I believe in the freedom to choose, this bill has to do with the state and not me personally, it does not require me to hold such a view that casual anonymous sex is okay. My freedom is not infringed if the bill fails, but the freedom of others to choose will be infringed when the bill passes.

I don’t see a reason why she should be allowed to sign the petition and remain as a CDO. Don’t think it is illegal to fire a muslim from refusing to work in a pig slaughterhouse when he knows what the job requires when he first applied for it; or at a bar as a bartender, in a gay bar.

FirstAndrew
January 9th, 2013 | LINK

Hey it’s the Andrew who only comments on articles about McCaskill. That’s kind of weird, right?

Neon Genesis
January 9th, 2013 | LINK

If a white person signed a petition against interracial marriage, they’d be fired from that job and never welcomed back. But if you sign an anti-gay marriage petition, all you get is a paid three month vacation it seems.

TampaZeke
January 9th, 2013 | LINK

I grew up in Mississippi in the late sixties, seventies and eighties and I’ve NEVER met a person who self-identified as racist and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t take offense at being called racist, including my parents who have never used any other word but the N-word to refer to black people.

I think Ms. McCaskill is suffering from the same kind of delusion.

Stephen Mead
January 9th, 2013 | LINK

Those who are unhappy with the decision, students, parents, faculty, may want to consider starting a petition on Change.org

Andrew
January 10th, 2013 | LINK

Hey FirstAndrew… Just Original Andrew here. And no, I comment on lots of things here :) I just don’t make it a full-time job. I find some of the thinking around this issue reflective of disturbing lack of careful thought, self-reflection, or critical analysis, or some combination thereof, so I was at pains to turn into Granny and wag a finger. We wouldn’t tolerate being fired because we signed a petition, regardless of the nature of said petition. It’s our right.

My bosses get to control more than 33% of my life – and I’m lucky, I have a great employer… there are folks with their pee breaks scheduled, who don’t get paid for overtime, who earn no benefits.

But as much as I like my job, I’ll be damned if I’m going to turn every last shred of my dignity and control over to them – whether through allowing them to decide what kinds of medical conditions they find morally acceptable to insure, what bumper stickers they deem suitable for my car… or what I do in my church, in the ballot box, or when confronted with a petition.

And I’m going to scream bloody murder when any of you all try to do it to me.

And please yes, that is precisely what you are arguing for when you advocate for her employer to have the right to step in on this issue. Because it is a double-edged sword, and you cannot predict where that kind of thing goes.

Anyone here remember how GSA groups earned the right to suit the crap out of schools that banned them?

It was when anti-gay Christian groups sued to have the right to meet on school grounds after-hours. The courts allowed it, provided the government remained neutral on content. The Christians never imagined that they were opening the door for desperately needed GSA clubs across the country.

So… what are you opening the door to here?

Andrew
January 10th, 2013 | LINK

And Neon, no, they wouldn’t. They’d sue the living shit out of their employer. And they’d win.

College Jay
January 10th, 2013 | LINK

I have to agree with Andrew here. I doubt any aspect of McCaskill’s job description mentioned her political activities. I’ve met many well-meaning straight people who say they don’t have a problem with homosexuality, but disagree with gay marriage. I’ve met many LGBT people who do not view gay marriage as the grandiose civil rights cause that it’s often made out to be. Yes, you might say that it’s illogical, but it happens.

If a Christian college fired a staff member for signing a petition that supported gay marriage, the gay community would explode with rage. Yes, her job as a diversity coordinator does call things into question, and I do wonder how she’ll be effective with LGBT students after so many no longer trust her.

Then again, I would hate for my job to be dependent upon whether or not people “perceive” me to be a certain way, whether I am or not. Frankly, I’ve never seen much point in university diversity offices.

Michael C
January 10th, 2013 | LINK

Hi CollegeJay,
Christian colleges fire staff all of the time for not agreeing with their stance on homosexuality. Many Christian schools force faculty and students to sign “contracts” that oblige them to oppose homosexuality. If I’m remembering the story correctly, recently the mother of a gay son was fired for refusing to sign one of these types of agreements.

Andrew
January 11th, 2013 | LINK

Unfortunately, according to the NLRB and Federal law, gays have yet to be identified as a “suspect class” affording us the same protections as categories, such as race, gender, or religion — that leaves it up to state law. You sure don’t hear too many of those cases happening here in California, or in Massachusetts, because here, unless the primary mission of the organization was religious (e.g. a church or religious ministry), they must comply with state law. This is because we still don’t have the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. (One more double-edged sword moment… in states where orientation discrimination is barred, gay-owned businesses cannot discriminate against straight employees or applicants).

Andrew
January 11th, 2013 | LINK

Michael C, what we’re talking about here is REACTIONS. Of course many gays or gay-allies are dismissed from their jobs. And we rant and rave about it (as we should).

So how can we then turn our backs on McCaskill? It’s the same basic principal. The only difference is content.

A good parallel would be whether you stand against censorship, or whether you only stand against being yourself censored for your particular views because you’re very right.

My fundamental argument is that the former is more likely to guarantee the latter over the long haul. The wheel turns, winners and losers trade places. Agree to a set of rules that will maximize your gains but minimize your losses, and result in a society we all want to live in.

By the way – I’m curious to see how McCaskill approaches her clients (students) after this, and whether she’s both able to relate to them, and whether she’s able to regain a measure of trust among her detractors (although given that I remember college politics revolving around posturing 20 year olds, unfinished egos, and a lack of critical thought, I have my doubts). What a fascinating challenge. I’m curious to see whether she’s able to meet the task in the long run. It could present a remarkable civics lesson.

Michael C
January 11th, 2013 | LINK

Hello Andrew,
While I find it awful that gay kids are kicked out of religious schools and teachers are fired for not publicly condemning homosexuals, I don’t have take legal issue with the religious institutions right to do so.

I don’t think that a public declaration of opposing values to your employer should be protected by anti-discrimination laws. If the spokesperson for PETA appeared in a KFC ad campaign, PETA has the right to fire them. Their views are not being censored by their employer, the conditions of their employment are being breached by their actions. Employers have the right to terminate an employee that takes action to undermine the employers mission/goals.

College Jay
January 14th, 2013 | LINK

Then it really becomes an issue of whether or not McCaskill’s actions undermined the university’s mission or goals. Certainly any sizable college is going to have a faculty and student body with diverse political beliefs. It would be improper, I think, for the university to say which political beliefs are correct and which are not.

I mean, would it be a stretch to say that any faculty member who openly supported Romney in the last election was guilty of the same crime as McCaskill? I don’t think so. His anti-gay marriage stance was very well known, and if McCaskill was disciplined for signing a petition, why wouldn’t other faculty members be disciplined for supporting an anti-gay candidate under the same principle?

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