Television ad opposing same-sex marriage features suspended Gallaudet diversity officer

Opponents of same-sex marriage in Maryland have started airing a television ad featuring images of Angela McCaskill, the chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University who was put on administrative leave after signing a petition to put the state’s new gay nuptials law on the ballot.

“They promised us Question 6 protects people who oppose gay marriage. But it doesn’t,” says the ad sponsored by the Maryland Marriage Alliance. “When marriage has been redefined elsewhere as Question 6 does, people who believe in traditional marriage have been punished. ... Who will be next? We’re all at risk under Question 6.”

The university’s decision to suspend McCaskill has also been criticized in recent days by supporters of the ballot measure on same-sex marriage, including Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the lead group fighting to pass Question 6, took out a full page newspaper ad in the Annapolis Capital calling for McCaskill’s reinstatement.

Derek McCoy, the chairman of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, said in a statement that the ad reflected his group’s beliefs that the religious protections in the bill are not adequate. O’Malley and others have touted language in the legislation that says religious groups opposed to same-sex marriages will not have to perform them.

“Homosexual activists continue to cry that individual and religious liberties are not at risk,” McCoy said. “The suspension of Dr. McCaskill is proof of the disingenuous and untruthful nature of that argument.”

At a news conference Tuesday, McCaskill said she signed the petition so that Marylanders would have a chance to vote on the issue, describing herself as “pro-democracy.” Her attorney has said repeatedly that she is not anti-gay.

On Wednesday, WJLA reported that McCaskill, who is shown in stock footage, would like to see the ad pulled and that she did not authorize it.

“If she had her druthers, she would rather it be pulled,” J. Wyndal Gordon, McCaskill's attorney, told the television station. “She never intended to be in the middle of that debate. Her public opinion with regard to that issue has always been neutral.”

The president of Gallaudet has said that McCaskill is welcome to eventually return to her position.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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