"It was our responsibility as journalists to make that information available," he said. "People in the state should know that their neighbors are signing petitions to take away their rights."

It was not clear whether the Blade was the source of the information that led Hurwitz to place McCaskill on leave. Naff said Gallaudet was within its rights to take action against her.

"If your job is to be a diversity officer, and you sign a petition to take away the rights of an entire class of people, perhaps you're in the wrong job," he said. "A private university, a private institution of any kind has the right to establish the culture that it wants."

A Gallaudet spokeswoman declined to comment beyond Hurwitz's statement.

O'Malley and other same-sex marriage supporters called on the university to reinstate McCaskill.

"Why, why, why did the university do this?" asked Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat who helped shepherd the legislation through the General Assembly. "It's just wrong to suspend someone for signing a petition to get a bill that was passed through the legislature before the voters of Maryland."

"It was absolutely not the right thing to do," said Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, also a Baltimore Democrat. "The act is not one that I support at all."

Sun reporter Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.

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