The same day she spoke out for the first time about the controversy over her petition signature putting same sex marriage on Maryland’s November ballot, Gallaudet University’s chief diversity officer Angela McCaskill was being featured in a new political ad.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance ad “Question 6 Doesn’t” has aired on local broadcast channels. It can also be found on the organization’s website.
The ad begins with images of Maryland lawmakers, then transitions to pictures of Angela McCaskill.
A woman’s voice can be heard saying:
"They promised us Question 6 protects people who oppose gay marriage. But it doesn't. Dr. Angela McCaskill is an official at GU. She signed the petition putting Question 6 on the ballot. Then she was suspended from her job. She's not alone. When marriage has been redefined elsewhere as Question 6 does, people who believe in traditional marriage have been punished. They were threatened. He was fired. They were sued. Who will be next? We're all at risk under Question 6."
Reached for comment this afternoon, J. Wyndal Gordon, McCaskill's attorney, said the stock footage in the ad is from Gallaudet University. "We didn't have any control over it,” he said.
When asked if McCaskill was uncomfortable being featured in a political ad or whether she wanted the group to pull the ad, Gordon said, “If she had her druthers, she would rather it be pulled. She never intended to be in the middle of that debate. Her public opinion with regard to that issue has always been neutral.”
He continued, "It is further evidence of the harm that Dr. McCaskill's reputation has suffered as a result of the scandal. It's the university's fault that her image and likeness have been put in a position to be used like that."
Deana Bass, a spokesperson for the Maryland Marriage Alliance, said her organization intends to continue airing the ad.
"This is an issue that has been brought to such a level of public discourse, we do believe that people need to understand what's happening," she said. "They need to understand that religious liberties and individual liberties are at risk."
Bass said her group decided to feature McCaskill's story because she is a Maryland resident. Bass said, "She has done absolutely nothing wrong. She exercised her right as a Maryland voter to sign a petition. This is a perfect example of religious liberties being attacked when same sex marriage is brought to question like this."
When asked whether he intended to contact the Maryland Marriage Alliance directly to request that the ad be pulled, Gordon said, “I would strongly encourage the University of Gallaudet to do so since it was their footage used to create the ad.”
Catherine Murphy, Gallaudet University’s Executive Director of Communications and Public Relations, says the video is copyrighted. "It's for Gallaudet University," she said. "They need our permission to use it which they don't have."
Murphy said the video was taken from Gallaudet's youtube channel. She said university officials are working with their attorneys to get the ad taken down.
Since Gallaudet President Alan Hurwitz placed McCaskill on paid administrative leave last Wednesday, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, Governor Martin O’Malley and other same sex marriage supporters have called for her reinstatement at the university.
McCaskill has also received strong support from the aforementioned Maryland Marriage Alliance, as well as the Family Research Council and other socially conservative groups.
But by featuring her story in a political ad on such a sensitive issue, could the Maryland Marriage Alliance jeopardize McCaskill’s reinstatement? "No," Bass replied. "I think it raises awareness. It makes people understand what is at stake."
Kevin Nix, a spokesperson for Marylanders for Marriage Equality responded to his opposition’s ad saying, "There are a number of misleading and highly suspect claims in the ad. But while our opponents are attacking and dividing, a majority of Marylanders are uniting around what Question 6 is about: treating people fairly under the law."