Man sues LA college over anti-gay marriage speech

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A college student has filed a lawsuit saying a public speaking professor berated him in class for making a speech opposing same-sex marriage.

In the federal court suit filed last week, student Jonathan Lopez said that midway through his speech, when he quoted a dictionary definition of marriage and recited a pair of Bible verses, professor John Matteson cut him off and would not allow him to finish. He said Matteson also called him a "fascist bastard."

A student evaluation form included with the lawsuit lacks a score for Lopez's speech, and reads "ask God what your grade is."

In a letter to the Alliance, Dean Allison Jones wrote that she had met with Lopez, considered his complaint "extremely serious in nature," and had begun a disciplinary investigation. Jones said in the letter she could not elaborate because of concerns for Matteson's privacy.

But Jones also wrote that two students were "deeply offended" by the speech, and quoted one as saying "this student should have to pay some price for preaching hate in the classroom."

Matteson did not immediately respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment early Monday. Offices of the Los Angeles Community College District were closed for the Presidents Day holiday.

Lopez made the speech at Los Angeles City College in November, days after the passage of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

"Basically, colleges and universities should give Christian students the same rights to free expression as other students," David J. Hacker, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization that is representing Lopez, told the Los Angeles Times.

Lopez and his attorneys are seeking financial damages and want the court to strike down a code at Los Angeles City College forbidding students from making statements deemed offensive.


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