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Student sues L.A. college district, claiming speech on same-sex unions censored

February 13, 2009 |  4:54 pm

A student has sued the Los Angeles Community College District, accusing it of censoring a classroom speech he gave against same-sex unions in the emotional aftermath of the passage of Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban.

Jonathan Lopez, who is working on his associate of arts degree at Los Angeles City College, quoted a dictionary definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman and cited several Bible verses during a public speaking class in late November, his suit says. His professor, John Matteson, interrupted, called Lopez a "fascist bastard" and refused to let him finish his address, according to the suit.

The professor also refused to give Lopez a grade for the speech, telling him to "ask God" for his mark, the suit alleges. And when Lopez complained to college officials, Matteson threatened to have him expelled, the suit says.

The suit also says that a district policy against offensive speech has a chilling effect on all Christian students. It asks that the district be prohibited from enforcing it.

Lopez’s case was taken up by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization that has advised proponents of Proposition 8. The group was co-founded by evangelical leader James Dobson of Focus on the Family. The suit requests financial damages and a jury trial. The named defendants include Matteson, the Los Angeles Community College District, members of its Board of Trustees and various Los Angeles Community College administrators.

-- Gale Holland