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WASHINGTON (AP and WUSA) - The chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University has been placed on paid leave after she signed a petition to put a gay marriage referendum on the ballot in Maryland.

Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz announced Angela McCaskill's leave in a statement Wednesday.

Hurwitz says McCaskill "participated in a legislative initiative that some feel is inappropriate" for someone in her position.

Both sides of the same sex marriage referendum are urging that McCaskill be immediately reinstated. Sultan Shakir of Marylanders for Marriage Equality says the drive is all about fairness, and he says it is only fair to put McCaskill back on the job. Rev. Derek McCoy of the Maryland Marriage Alliance says the petition was just to give voters a say, and that by signing it, he says McCaskill was not necessarily saying she opposes same sex marriage.

McCaskill's husband picked up the phone at the couple's Upper Marlboro home, but declined to comment until they hire a lawyer. He says his wife is so upset, she is now under a doctor's care.

Gallaudet is the nation's leading university for the deaf and hard of hearing.

McCaskill lives in Maryland, where voters will decide in November whether to approve a state law legalizing gay marriage. The referendum was placed on the ballot by opponents of same-sex unions.

McCaskill's signature on the petition was disclosed in July by the Washington Blade. She did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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