Marquette University seems to be sending a message to students and faculty who support Catholic doctrine regarding marriage: if you oppose gay marriage keep your mouth shut.

In November a teaching assistant berated a student and told him that he could not say anything against gay marriage because it might offend other students – and that opposition to gay marriage could be considered homophobic.

“You don’t have a right in this class to make homophobic comments,” teaching assistant Cheryl Abbate told the unnamed student. 


John McAdams, a tenured associate professor at the school, was the first to expose the incident on his “Marquette Warrior” blog. He wrote a scathing commentary about Abbate and staunchly defended the young student. 

“Like the rest of academia, Marquette is less and less a real university,” he wrote. “And when gay marriage cannot be discussed -- certainly not a Catholic university.”

McAdams soon discovered how true that statement was. On Tuesday, he was placed under investigation, suspended and banned from campus.

“You are relieved of all teaching duties and all other faculty activities,” Dean Richard Holz wrote to McAdams in a letter. “You are to remain off campus during this time.”


McAdams, who has taught at Marquette for 37 years, will maintain his salary and benefits during the inquisition.

He was not told why he was under investigation or why he was suspended – but he suspects that Abbate accused him of harassment because of the blog post.

“It would be odd to be charged with harassing someone by reporting something accurately on my blog,” McAdams told me. “A lot of politically correct faculty have wanted my head on a pike.”

The university released a statement to television station WITI about the professor’s suspension – and referenced their policy about harassment. 

“As stated in our harassment policy, the university will not tolerate personal attacks or harassment of or by students, faculty and staff,” the statement read. “To be clear, we will take action to address those concerns. We deplore hatred and abuse directed at a member of our community in any format.”

Does the university also deplore the deliberate silencing of professors and students who oppose gay marriage? Will the university take action against the teaching assistant for standing in opposition to Catholic doctrine? Will the university tolerate a teaching assistant who stifles free speech?

“There’s a lot of keeping your mouth shut,” McAdams told me. “Students are subjected to a good bit of indoctrination.”

There’s no doubt Abbate said what she said to the student. The young man, who asked not to be named, secretly recorded the entire conversation. Under Wisconsin law, he was within his rights to do so.

“Are you saying if I don’t agree with gays not being allowed to get married that I’m homophobic?” the student asked.

“I’m saying it would come off as a homophobic comment in this class,” the teacher replied.

McAdams accused Abbate of using a tactic “typical among liberals now.”

“Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up,” he wrote.

After Abbate’s classroom antics were exposed she came under fierce attack from conservatives and those who appreciate and respect public discourse. However, Abbate objected to those who were critical of behavior.

She accused those who disagreed with her of “cyberbullying and harassment.”

“It is astounding to me that the university has not created some sort of policy that would prohibit this behavior which undoubtedly leads to a toxic environment for both students and faculty,” she told the website Inside Higher Ed.

So not only does Teaching Assistant Abbate want to silence opposition to her beliefs in the classroom – she also wants to silence opposition outside of the classroom.

McAdams was soon attacked by a politically correct assortment of lesbians, feminists and white privilege advocates at the university. I refer you to his blog for the colorful, detailed account of what they tried to do to McAdams. 

And now it appears Marquette University is conspiring with Abbate to chill if not silence dissenting campus voices.

“Shame on her,” McAdams told me. “Someone should tell her you don’t call opposition to gay marriage homophobia. People have a right to express that opinion.”

But they apparently don’t have that right at Marquette University.

I’m not Catholic – but it seems to me Marquette University is one of those CINO schools – Catholic in Name Only.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.