In an hour we're going to see Angela McCaskill on television making a speech to explain or defend her position. I'm hoping this series of events has a positive outcome, but I have several serious questions about the issue. What does she really believe and how does it work at Gallaudet?
Major gay and lesbian groups have issued support of McCaskill, as have some newspapers. The University wants her to return, despite a distinct lack of apology on her part. Possibly they're not aware that McCaskill's position explicitly includes oversight of gay and lesbian events and students on campus. It's not certain how she'd regain the trust of such students or their friends and family members. Her voting rights are not in question: she voted. She was politically active. Nobody tried to stop her. The question is whether her views, after the fact, make her inappropriate for the position.
At this point McCaskill's intentions are unclear. Initially she tried to disavow responsibility for her signature; several articles including this one from ABC News initially reported McCaskill as claiming the petition was signed in error because her husband pointed at it during a hectic moment. Now, five days later, she's changed; now she's stating she's prevented from engaging in the democratic process–although she clearly voted engaged in political activity without anyone stopping her. The question again is whether her views make it inappropriate for her to oversee gay and lesbian students on campus.
What will McCaskill say, other than taking the opportunity to announce a lawsuit and how much she supports gay and lesbian people, except when it comes to being allowed equal rights, because really that has nothing to do with equality? What, really, can she say? We have an impasse here: from one group's view this is untenable; from another it's much the same way. She seems to believe there's nothing wrong, as Diversity Officer, with saying one group deserves fewer rights than another, because of her personal beliefs.
At this point the best thing to do would be to focus on the role and decide whether the role can be adequately filled by someone who's politically active in a way which contradicts the role.
I'd love to see McCaskill return here, I'd love to see her recant her statement and say that signature really WAS a mistake. From everything I've seen, it wasn't.
PS I'm seeing some bloggers state that the petition wasn't against gay marriage–it just wanted the PEEPUL to decide! This is an ingenious way to ignore that it's a civil rights issue and that gays and lesbians are, themselves, citizens and people. Her intent was to prevent the passage of the bill legalizing equal rights, full stop.