Gallaudet University is asking the group opposing Maryland's same-sex marriage law to take down a new commercial that features a university staff member who was suspended for signing a referendum petition.
The new commercial, funded by the Maryland Marriage Alliance, shows footage of Angela McCaskill, the diversity officer who was removed from her post because she signed a petition to put the same-sex marriage law on the November ballot.
"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."
Deana Bass, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Marriage Alliance, said the group has not heard any formal complaints about the spot, and it has no intention of removing it.
"It is a fair use of the footage," said Bass. "At this point, [the incident] is in the public space. We want people to understand what is at stake with Question 6."
On Tuesday, J. Wyndal Gordon, a lawyer for McCaskill, told The Baltimore Sun that his client had not agreed to be featured in any advertising about the same-sex marriage referendum. He said McCaskill's decision to sign the petition to allow voters to decide the issue was not an indication of her position on same-sex marriage.
Gordon later told a Washington television station that if McCaskill "had her druthers," the commercial would be pulled. He did not return calls Wednesday evening.
At a news conference Tuesday, McCaskill said she wants her position back and should be compensated for the emotional toll of the ordeal. She was suspended with pay this month after another faculty member complained that she signed the petition.
The commercial, which began airing Tuesday evening, highlights four cases in which it says penalties have been meted out for opposition to same-sex marriage, a narrative that opponents are using all over the country.
"When marriage has been redefined elsewhere, as Question 6 does, people who believe in traditional marriage have been punished," according to the commercial.
The spot shows images of McCaskill, who is deaf, signing at various events.
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.
The ad was designed by Frank Schubert, a political consultant from California who is heading anti-same-sex marriage campaigns in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington state.
Schubert calls the pitch the "consequences message" and notes that similar commercials have proved persuasive in other states. Same-sex marriage has been voted down in each of the 32 states where it has been on the ballot.
Same-sex marriage supporters accuse Schubert of finding a handful of examples of intolerance, exaggerating the facts and presenting them as the norm.