Two pastors who support same sex marriage in Maryland plan to hold a rally outside Gallaudet University at noon on Thursday in support of Angela McCaskill’s reinstatement as chief of diversity.
McCaskill was placed on paid administrative leave for signing a petition to put Maryland’s same-sex marriage law on the November ballot.
Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton and Rev. Donte Hickman of Southern Baptist Church in Baltimore have been featured as supporters of Question 6 in political ads produced by Marylanders for Marriage Equality.
In a joint news release, the pastors said “they will hold weekly protest rallies outside Gallaudet University beginning this Thursday… The protests are designed as a show of support for Dr. McCaskill and to urge university officials to take all corrective measures to restore her to her position.”
“Support for Question 6 is about protecting everyone’s rights, gay rights and religious rights” Coates told ABC7’s Mike Conneen. “This is very disconcerting what happened to Dr. McCaskill for merely exercising her freedom of speech.”
At their Sunday services, Coates said he and Hickman invited their congregations to attend the rally. The organization Marylanders for Marriage Equality said it did not help the pastors organize the event, but some supporters might attend.
J. Wyndal Gordon, McCaskill’s attorney, said she will not attend. However, Gordon said he plans to be there to update her supporters on her status at the university. He said he also hopes his presence will spur University President Alan Hurwitz to invite him on campus to begin discussions about McCaskill’s employment status.
“She still wishes to return to the university,” Gordon said. “She is truly grateful for the support she has received from the public. She is still getting negative, hateful messages, but the positive messages keep her afloat.”
Gordon said he has had no communication with the university since Monday, when he received a formal letter from university officials indicating that McCaskill has been placed on “indefinite paid administrative leave.” Gordon said he is waiting for a call back from the university’s lawyers.
A Gallaudet spokesperson said McCaskill’s employment status remains unchanged. However, referring to it as a legal matter, she declined to comment further on the matter.
In their news release, Coates and Hickman wrote, “So long as Dr. McCaskill performs her job in an acceptable manner, treats everyone with respect, and does not violate any employee regulations, she should not be discriminated against because of her personal beliefs. And that's what this is... discrimination. This is an injustice that both supporters and opponents of marriage equality should stand against."
University president Alan Hurwitz released the following Tuesday:
Since placing Gallaudet University's Chief Diversity Officer on paid administrative leave, Gallaudet University has been called upon by several external organizations to immediately reinstate Dr. Angela McCaskill in her position as Chief Diversity Officer. We recently became aware that several of those external organizations plan to hold demonstrations at Gallaudet University starting this week.
As much as I understand the views that some outside organizations have about the immediate return of our Chief Diversity Officer to campus, at the same time we need to move forward at a rate appropriate for our entire community.
I'd like to reiterate that while this has become an issue beyond our campus, as President of Gallaudet University, my number one concern is our university community - our students, faculty, and staff and so many others who support us. I act on their behalf, not with any agenda other than their well-being. I will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that this campus remains a safe environment for our entire campus community.
The university administration has been conducting very productive meetings with student organizations including groups that represent students of color, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, as well as faculty and staff leadership. The university's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board is also developing strategies for moving the community forward.
I would like to commend our students - as well as our faculty and staff - who have shown remarkable maturity and restraint under the complexities of the situation. I know our community will extend the same measure of civility and respect we have shown each other to those outside the campus community who choose to express their concerns and perspectives.