Tags: gay | marriage | lawsuit

Student Speech Against Gay Marriage Prompts Lawsuit

Monday, 16 Feb 2009 09:12 PM

By Rick Pedraza

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California student Jonathan Lopez is suing Los Angeles Community College District for inappropriate remarks made by his public-speaking professor, John Matteson, regarding his stance against gay marriage, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Lopez says the speech he gave to the public speaking class just weeks after Proposition 8, which prohibits same-sex marriage, passed last November in California amounts to religious discrimination.

In the suit, Lopez claims his professor called him a “fascist bastard” after interrupting the speech against same-sex unions, which allegedly violated his First Amendment rights. He claims the professor then told him to “ask God what your grade is” when he inquired about the mark he would receive on the speech.

Lopez, a resident of L.A. working on an associate of arts degree who describes himself as a Christian, says he also was threatened with expulsion for the speech after complaining to Matteson’s superiors at the school. He has filed with U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to strike down the sexual harassment code barring students from making “offensive” statement, the Times reports.

The Alliance Defense Fund, co-founded by Focus on the Family’s evangelical leader James Dobbs, will represent Lopez in the jury trial, which names nine campuses in the district, L.A. City College, its board of trustees, Matteson, and other administrators.

“He was expressing his faith during an open-ended assignment,” Alliance staff counsel David J. Hacker said. “But when the professor disagreed with some minor things he mentioned, the professor shut him down.”

Hacker maintains colleges and universities should give Christian student the same rights to free speech expression as other students and points to a similar suit in 2006 at Missouri State University, where a case was won against the school’s attempt to discipline a student for claiming Christian beliefs in the refusal to support gay adoptions.

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