Gallaudet University's rash decision to place its chief diversity officer on paid administrative leave because she signed the petition that put Maryland's same-sex marriage law on the ballot next month is a dismaying example of political correctness run amok. But it also exposes the same kind of intimidation and coercion quietly lurking behind a facade of "fairness" and "toleration" that reared its ugly head in California four years ago over voter-approved Proposition 8.

Maggie Gallagher, a former president of the National Organization for Marriage, zeroed in on this anomaly last week, writing on National Review's blog: "Nobody that I know is losing his job for being for gay marriage." Indeed, the shabby treatment of Dr. Angela McCaskill is more proof that the Tolerance Lobby does not tolerate dissent -- even among its own card-carrying members.

McCaskill and her sister were the first two black, deaf, females to earn their Ph.D.s from Gallaudet. She worked at the nation's premier university for the hearing impaired for 23 years before becoming its chief diversity officer in 2011. Before a still-anonymous Gallaudet faculty member ratted her out for signing the petition, she was apparently in good standing and had even helped establish a resource center for gay deaf students on campus.

McCaskill, who lives in Maryland, says she signed the petition at the suggestion of her pastor because she believes in the democratic process. So her removal from her job at the federally-chartered D.C. university was clearly an act of retaliation for exercising her First Amendment rights.

Gay marriage proponents have tried very hard to reassure Marylanders that the new law will not force clerics to perform gay weddings or otherwise participate in ceremonies forbidden by their faith. But McCaskill's removal for merely signing a petition make these vague reassurances even less credible than before. Which is why both Gov. Martin O'Malley, who made same-sex marriage the centerpiece of his legislative agenda, and Marylanders for Marriage Equality have publicly denounced Gallaudet's action. Both have urged university President T. Alan Hurwitz to reinstate McCaskill.

Too late. McCaskill's pastor says her dismissal is "a warning of what is to come if same-sex marriage becomes law in Maryland." And founder Del. Neil Parrott, R-District 28, plans to reintroduce a bill to protect people like her -- and the 200,000 other Marylanders who signed the petition as individual voters. If Marylanders didn't face the very real threat of political retaliation, they wouldn't need such protection.