EDUCATION

Gallaudet gay marriage protests: Dueling groups rally for Gallaudet's McCaskill

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Two groups of protesters - with opposing views on gay marriage - rallied outside Gallaudet University today in support of its diversity chief.

PHOTOS: Angela McCaskill rally and protest at Gallaudet University

PHOTOS: Angela McCaskill rally and protest at Gallaudet University 11 Photos
PHOTOS: Angela McCaskill rally and protest at Gallaudet University
Angela McCaskill

Angela McCaskill was placed on administrative leave two weeks ago after signing a petition that called for putting the issue on Maryland's November ballot. It's now question number 6 on the ballot.

University officials sent a letter (on page 2) to the Gallaudet community Thursday encouraging students, staff and faculty to be respectful of opposing viewpoints. There is fear of the university losing its accreditation.

McCaskill's attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon and the university say negotiations are ongoing.

Gordon says their conversations are moving in the right direction and it's "extremely likely" she'll get her job back.

But first, he says they need to resolve some issues, like McCaskill's safety and the hateful messages she's been getting.

Outside Gallaudet University's front gate, a few dozen protesters -- organized by supporters of same-sex marriage -- called for the immediate reinstatement of McCaskill.

"We cannot trade one form of discrimination for another form of discrimination," says Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., who has been prominent in organizing African-American pastors in support of marriage equality. "And in a free pluralistic society, people have the right to their personal beliefs and thoughts and opinions, even if it makes us uncomfortable."

Just down the street, more protesters -- who oppose same sex marriage -- held their own rally.

"She didn't do nothing but want the voters to vote," says Janice Hall, a same-sex marriage opponent. "You know, it's up to the voters to make that decision whether they want it or don't."

Throughout the protests, many students and staff members stood nearby and observed.

McCaskill did not attend.

But her attorney told reporters that before McCaskill can return, the university must ensure her safety and possibly provide financial compensation for what he calls the "irreparable harm" she's suffered.

"Well, I think she's entitled to some restoration of her reputation and how that will be restored, we'll have to work out the details," Gordon says.

McCaskill shared with ABC7 some of the emails she's received, which she says attacked her and called her names. She says some of them were racially charged.

"You signing that is like me signing a petition to allow white men to own slaves again and to call those slaves (deleted expletive)," one of the emails reads.

A Gallaudet spokesperson says McCaskill's employment status remains unchanged..

But in a letter to the campus community, President Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz says that the university administration has been conducting productive meetings with LGBT students and students of color as well as faculty and staff leadership.

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