Gallaudet University's diversity officer has been placed on leave for signing a petition to put Maryland's same-sex marriage law on the ballot, The Washington Blade has reported.
The official, Angela McCaskill, could not be immediately reached for comment.
In a statement to The Blade, Galleudet president T. Alan Hurwitz said: “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.
“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," he said. "In the meantime an interim Chief Diversity Officer will be announced in the near future.”
McCaskill has worked at Gallaudet for 23 years and was the first deaf African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from the university, according to her bio on the university's website. She is also on the Board of Trustees of the Maryland School for the Deaf, according to her bio on Gallaudet's website.
Her suspension fits neatly into a narrative that opponents of same-sex marriage are pushing: Approving gay marriage in Maryland will have unintended consequences, and opposition to it in the public square will not be tolerated.
"This is only the latest in a long list of attacks on individuals who express support for marriage as a union between one man and one woman," said Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, which is opposing the same-sex marriage law. "If such attacks can be made before same-sex marriage is law, how can homosexual activists in good faith say that religious liberties will not be attacked if Question 6 passes?"
Kevin Nix, a sokesman for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, which supports same-sex marriage, said the campaign "strongly disagrees" with the university's decision and wants her to be "reinstated immediately."
"Everyone is entitled to free speech and to their own opinion about Question 6," Nix said.