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Religious leaders rally for reinstatement of Gallaudet administrator

Thursday - 10/25/2012, 7:51pm  ET

AngelaMcCaskill.jpg
Angela McCaskill, chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University, using sign language and speaking through an interpreter, addresses a news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012 in Annapolis, Md., about being put on leave from her job after signing a petition to put Maryland's same-sex marriage law on the ballot for voters to decide. She is asking to be reinstated to her position. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

WASHINGTON - No one knows how Angela McCaskill feels about same-sex marriage, but pastors with differing views on the issue have rallied to call for her reinstatement at Gallaudet University.

The chief diversity officer at the nation's leading university for deaf students was put on indefinite leave Oct. 10 for signing a petition that puts Maryland's same-sex marriage law to a vote. McCaskill's leave has caused turmoil on the campus and drawn national attention.

Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative, gathered more than a dozen supporters outside one gate at Gallaudet University in D.C. where he led the group in a chant: "We demand that she be reinstated immediately!"

Evans says while he and the National Black Church Initiative is firmly opposed to same-sex marriage, the group has worked to support "our gay brothers and sisters" in other areas. Evans says the issue is about McCaskill's right to act on her own beliefs and that her right has been violated.

Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md. has said in the past he would not perform a same- sex marriage ceremony in his church. At Thursday's rally, he says the issue surrounding McCaskill is about the separation of church and state.

He says it's not about what any one church would do about same-sex marriage, but whether McCaskill was singled out for signing the petition. He adds that he does not know what McCaskill's views are and she is entitled to her opinions.

"Human rights and civil rights (have) been about protecting the public square - not about policing people's personal opinions," Delman says.

McCaskill's attorney J. Wyndal Gordon says the problem is that people on both sides of the issue have made assumptions about McCaskill's position on same-sex marriage.

"Some people made assumptions on the left, some people made assumptions on the right, but at the end of the day, each side prejudged her in the worst way, and that's really why we're here," he says.

Gordon says he's confident McCaskill will be reinstated, and talks with the university about how that would be done are continuing.

Gallaudet officials outside the gates Thursday would not comment, but offered reporters written statements. Galludet University President Alan Hurwitz did not address McCaskill's status directly, but wrote about a need for the university to "move forward."

Speaking through an interpreter, Johanna Martin, a Gallaudet University senior and Rainbow Society president, says she has concerns about how McCaskill's personal views - whatever they may be - may have an effect on how McCaskill does her job.

"Every human has their right to have their own beliefs, but still it is a very sticky situation," Martin says. "Will she truly support the LBGT community? And will there be bias there in her work?"

Watch a video of the rally by WTOP's Kate Ryan:

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WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow Kate Ryan and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)