WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The leaders of Gallaudet University were hearing outrage from community activists today over the controversial suspension of one of its employees.

Protesters gathered in front of one of the school’s entrances Thursday afternoon shouting their support for suspended chief diversity officer, Dr. Angela McCaskill, who was put on leave for signing a petition opposing same-sex marriage in Maryland.

When Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the marriage equality bill into law in March, lawmakers predicted opponents would gather the 55,736 signatures necessary to put the issue on November ballots for voters to decide.

The bill does not go into effect in Maryland until January 2013, but if voters decide in the general election that same-sex marriage does not belong in their state, that doesn’t happen.

Protesters said McCaskill’s suspension was a violation of her first amendment rights, voicing their frustrations with “You don’t need permission to sign a petition” chants.

“She stood up for her Christian right and she was persecuted by her employer,” one protester said. “Because she confessed a lean toward an understanding that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman.”

Gallaudet’s administration clarified in a statement the suspension was with pay, and their attorneys are speaking with hers, although McCaskill’s representatives say their client’s reputation has been irreparably harmed by the action.

McCaskill herself has said she signed the petition so voters can decide the issue, and has never publicly come out for or against marriage equality.

A group of protesters for marriage equality gathered at another entrance to the school.


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