Marriage Equality Advocates Protest Gallaudet Decision

Oct 22, 2012, 07:00 ET from Mt. Ennon Baptist Church

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Rev. Delman Coates and Rev. Donte Hickman, two leading advocates for Maryland's Civil Marriage Protection Act, announced their support Monday for Dr. Angela McCaskill, the chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University who was put on leave after signing a petition to send Maryland's marriage equality law to a public referendum.  "It is unacceptable for Dr. McCaskill to be professionally sanctioned for merely exercising her right as a citizen in our democracy," said Coates and Hickman in a joint statement.  "Our advocacy for marriage equality is about protecting the rights of all people, gays and lesbians, as well as those who may have a traditional view of marriage. It is the height of hypocrisy for an institution that claims to support individual choice and freedom of expression to deprive that freedom to someone they assume has a different opinion with respect to this policy issue."

In response to the university's decision, Coates and Hickman announced Monday that they will hold weekly protest rallies outside Gallaudet University beginning this Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 12 noon.  The protests are designed as a show of support for Dr. McCaskill and to urge university officials to take all corrective measures to restore her to her position.

While Coates and Hickman are ardent supporters of Maryland's marriage equality law, appearing in ads across the state encouraging Marylanders to vote for Question 6 on the November ballot referendum, they are also critical of the intolerance shown towards those on the other side of the issue.  "The question university officials have to answer is whether they want true diversity or false diversity," say the two ministers.  "True diversity is about living in a society and working in an environment where people of all backgrounds, opinions, and perspectives are tolerated and made to feel safe, not just those who agree with your perspective.  So long as Dr. McCaskill performs her job in an acceptable manner, treats everyone with respect, and does not violate any employee regulations, she should not be discriminated against because of her personal beliefs.  And that's what this is...discrimination.  This is an injustice that both supporters and opponents of marriage equality should stand against."

Rev. Delman Coates, Ph.D., is the Senior Pastor of the Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, a congregation of 8,000 members in Prince George's County, Maryland.  Rev. Dr. Donte Hickman is the Senior Pastor of the Southern Baptist Church, a congregation of 4,000 members in three locations in Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, and Hartford County.

SOURCE Mt. Ennon Baptist Church