It didn’t take long for Angela McCaskill to become the unwitting public face of Maryland’s debate over same-sex marriage.
On Tuesday evening, a group opposing the state’s law allowing same-sex marriage began airing a campaign advertisement portraying Gallaudet University’s embattled diversity officer as a victim for signing a petition seeking to put the law to a vote on the November ballot. Gallaudet placed Ms. McCaskill on leave after officials learned that she had signed the petition. The spot, seen above, first aired on the same day that she demanded her job back at a news conference.
But a Gallaudet official told The Baltimore Sun that the Maryland Marriage Alliance, which financed the ad, never received permission to use the footage:
“The video they are using, the ad, is actually copyrighted by us,” said Katherine Murphy, executive director of communications and public relations at Gallaudet in Washington. “We’re in touch with our attorneys to have them follow up with the group to ask them to take down the ad.”
Ms. McCaskill’s lawyer also pointed out another problem: His client never agreed to appear in any ads. At Tuesday’s news conference, she said she wasn’t taking an anti-gay stance by signing the petition, and added that she was merely standing up for voters’ rights. Both critics and supporters of the law have denounced the university’s decision to put her on leave.
For its part, the Maryland Marriage Alliance says the ad isn’t going anywhere, calling it fair use of the footage in question. No matter its fate, a columnist in Gallaudet’s student paper said the university’s handling of the unresolved situation could mean “the difference between being placed on a pedestal for other institutions of higher education to follow and sitting on a stool in front of a classroom wearing a dunce cap.”