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L.A. Student
Sues to Speak Against Marriage Equality

L.A. Student
Sues to Speak Against Marriage Equality

A public speaking assignment has escalated to a lawsuit against Los Angeles City College over First Amendment rights and school codes on offensive speech.

A public speaking assignment has escalated to a lawsuit against Los Angeles City College over First Amendment rights and school codes on offensive speech.

Student Jonathan Lopez claims a professor refused to let him finish a speech opposing same-sex marriage during a public speaking class in November, weeks after the passing of Proposition 8. Lopez alleges that the professor called him a "fascist bastard" and when asking for his grade, replied to Lopez, "Ask God what your grade is." Lopez also said the teacher threatened to have him expelled when he took his complaints to the dean.

A letter from Dean Allison Jones to Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian legal organization representing Lopez in his suit, says two students in the class were deeply offended by the speech. One student said Lopez "should have to pay some price for preaching hate in the classroom."

Alliance is the same group that had filed a suit, ultimately unsuccessful, to stop the release of the names and addresses of donors to Proposition 8. Alliance staff counsel David J. Hacker told the Los Angeles Times that Lopez was a victim of religious discrimination.

"He was expressing his faith during an open-ended assignment, but when the professor disagreed with some minor things he mentioned, the professor shut him down," he said in the article, "Basically, colleges and universities should give Christian students the same rights to free expression as other students."

As well as seeking financial damages, the suit, filed in U.S. district court in Los Angeles, seeks to strike down a sexual harassment code barring students from uttering "offensive" statements. (Rhiza Dizon, Advocate.com)

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