A new commercial from the group opposed to the marriage equality law in Maryland features Angela McCaskill, the Gallaudet University diversity officer suspended for signing the referendum petition, to argue that people who speak against marriage equality get “punished” for their beliefs.
The spot began airing Tuesday and places McCaskill among a handful of other cases, including the fast food chain Chick-fil-A, where marriage equality opponents say they have been persecuted for their view. Frank Schubert, the California-based political consultant behind campaigns against marriage equality in other states, designed the ad.
“It also briefly refers to Chick-fil-a, the fast-food chain that became the focus of boycotts over the summer after the company's chief executive officer said he supports ‘the biblical definition of the family unit,’ a Canadian sportscaster who was fired after tweeting about his opposition to same-sex marriage, and the proprietors of a Vermont inn who were sued after refusing to allow a gay wedding at their hotel,” reports the Baltimore Sun.
McCaskill was placed on administrative leave with pay this month after a colleague at the school for the deaf in Washington, D.C. reported that she signed the petition for the referendum, known as Question 6. A lawyer for McCaskill told the Sun that she had not agreed to appear in the commercial, and that her petition signature was no indication of her view on same-sex marriage. The longtime employee is seeking to be reinstated with compensation for the emotional distress of the incident.
Gallaudet officials, meanwhile, say the footage of McCaskill is copyrighted by the university, and they want the ad pulled. The Maryland Marriage Alliance contends the ad is a fair use of footage and refuses to remove the commercial.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition working to pass Question 6, has called for McCaskill to be reinstated and said the ad is “exploiting” her.
"Our opponents' attack ad is full of deceptive and false claims,” said campaign manager Josh Levin in a statement. “And they are exploiting Dr. Angela McCaskill - who should be reinstated immediately - and are making the situation worse for her. Our opponents should leave her alone. She did nothing wrong and she has even requested the ad be pulled off the air."