A tenured California professor engulfed in controversy surrounding his advocacy of traditional marriage is still awaiting a final sentence from his university after being found guilty of retaliation against a student last month.
The charges against Robert Oscar Lopez, a bisexual man raised by his mother and her lesbian partner, suggest he retaliated against a student who reported him to university officials for discrimination. Lopez, recently tenured by California State University, Northridge (CSUN), could face dismissal.
Since CSUN’s guilty verdict in October, voices from all sides have publically expressed support for Lopez’s cause. In November Jennifer Roback Morse’s conservative Ruth Institute posted an online petition asking California State system chancellor Timothy P. White to drop all charges against Lopez. Days later, Mirah Riben, a pro-gay marriage liberal, wrote a Huffington Post editorial entitled “End the Witch Hunt: In Defense of Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez” supporting Lopez’s advocacy for children and criticized CSUN for “trumped up charges based on lies and reverse discrimination.”
Lopez’s troubles began in 2012, when he wrote an article for the online journal Public Discourse about struggles he experienced being raised by his lesbian mother and her partner. In it, he expressed support for Mark Regnerus, a University of Texas professor responsible for controversial research showing negative effects on children raised by LGBT parents. Within days of the story posting online, gay advocacy groups rallied against Lopez, including sending emails addressed to his university account and copied to colleagues and administrators.
A storm of backlash and disapproval followed. His dean soon after told him to hand over all emails concerning the Public Discourse article, Regnerus’ research, and political involvement, according to a First Things article written by Lopez. Lopez says a university grant officer tried to block him from accessing outside grants. Student groups at Notre Dame and Stanford universities who brought Lopez to speak were banished from student activities boards after the events. In September 2014, the pro-gay advocacy group Human Rights Campaign called Lopez an “Exporter of Hate” and released a poster with Lopez’s face saying they were putting him “on notice.”
Lopez, who supports civil unions and foster care eligibility for gay couples, has continued to stand firm in his criticism of adoption, surrogacy, and in vitro fertilization by LGBT parents as violating the rights of children to their natural families. Lopez and several others raised by LGBT parents, but critical of gay marriage, submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the recent Obergefell case.
In June, Lopez found out CSUN administrators were investigating two student complaints against him. The Office of Equity and Diversity claimed he discriminated against a heterosexual female student and a gay male student by giving them an optional assignment to prepare a research exhibit and display it at an all-day conference about children’s rights and traditional marriage. The investigation cleared Lopez of any wrongdoing, but soon after found Lopez guilty of creating a hostile learning environment and retaliating against a student who reported him to the university.
Lopez maintains his innocence. He says the student in question received an A in his class and that she was not entitled to an award the university claims he prevented her from getting. Lopez told The Daily Signal liberal activists may have worked with students to push charges, but that he has “no real gripes against the students, because I know they were weaponized by off-campus groups.” For now, he is still reporting to work on campus while waiting for administrators to decide his punishment.
“Universities like [CSUN] have created a shadow legal system under the guise of fostering campus ‘inclusivity’ and ‘tolerance,’” writes Lopez in a recent American Thinker article asserting modern universities gather too many people who all think alike, leading to “incestuous cronyism” and an “exclusion of outsiders.”
“Under such conditions, interactions are poisoned by power games, and learning itself degenerates,” Lopez wrote. “What were once halls of learning become corridors of institutional control.”
By Kiley Crossland