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|Oglethorpe students band together to protest anti-gay lecturer|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Tuesday, 08 March 2011 18:16|
A silent protest greeted Dr. Matthew Franck, who opposes same-sex marriage, when he lectured Monday at Atlanta's Oglethorpe University. LGBT advocates who organized the protest said they wanted to make sure people understand the university is an open and welcoming place.
Franck, director of the William E. & Carol G. Simon Center on Religion & the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J., spoke at Oglethorpe in a discussion titled, “Charging ‘Hate’ in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate: How to Stop an Argument You're Losing and Endanger Freedom While You're At It.”
He has argued that it is inaccurate to call opposition to gay marriage or other LGBT issues "hate," claiming that gay advocates use the term to close down debate.
Organizing the silent protest of Franck’s lecture was junior psychology student Brittany Weiner and her partner Jess Graner, who graduated from Oglethorpe in 2008 and now works in the admissions office. Approximately 100 people attended the lecture, including more than half of those wearing purple and rainbow stickers to show solidarity.
“I thought his argument was very frustrating at times and the hairs would raise on my arms,” said Weiner. “But I was so proud of the Q&A and how we all united and banded together.”
Graner agreed the controversial speaker helped bring students together to show that Oglethorpe is an inclusive and open university.
“I am really glad students were able to come together ... and show our solidarity and show that his view is not the majority here,” Graner said.
While there was opposition to Franck’s lecture, Graner said she believes in freedom of speech. But she said the event would have been better if there had been someone who supports gay marriage also speaking.
“One of our professors has invited Dan Savage to speak. That would be great if he would come and we would get another voice,” Graner said.
Weiner said that despite disagreeing with everything Franck said, having him speak was a great way to bring students together.
“It was very useful in getting us together and bonding more closely. I’m glad he came,” Weiner added.
Franck discounted those studies, however.
“I suggest we don’t have good social science on this with good sample sizes,” he said. “These are very small studies, small enough to be anecdotal.”
Weiner responded she has spent much time studying the research on same-sex adoptions and told Franck, “They are not anecdotal.” Her answer was greeted by applause.
Franck also told the students that a “handful of judges” are making the decisions on the legal acceptance of same-sex marriage and that gay marriage is an issue that should be left up to the people.
“If you want to get five judges [on the Supreme Court], if you want to get Anthony Kennedy to vote for same-sex marriage, it will be worse than the culture war that followed Roe v Wade,” he said.
Kennedy, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, is often considered the swing vote on high profile decisions.
The lecture is presented by Oglethorpe's Division of History, Politics & International Science and is the first in the "Contemporary Constitutional Controversies" lecture series.
The lecture series is sponsored by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. The foundation is known for its support of right-wing causes. Oglethorpe History Professor Joseph Knippenberg, who invited Franck, is also a vocal opponent of gay rights, Project Q reported:
Franck was invited to speak by Joseph Knippenberg, a longtime history professor and blogger who recently compared homosexuality to incest. Franck’s lecture is sponsored by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, an organization that is funded by billionaire Charles Koch, who along with his brother David owns Koch Industries and have given more than $100 million to right-wing causes.
The Kansas-based Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., owns Atlanta’s Georgia-Pacific.
To see photos from the event, click here.
Photo: Brittany Weiner (wearing the Mardi Gras T-shirt in center) and her partner, Jess Graner (far right), organized a silent protest of Dr. Matthew Franck's lecture against same-sex marriage at Oglethorpe University. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)
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