End the Witch Hunt: In Defense of Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
Evelyn Beatrice Hall, The Friends of Voltaire

Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez is facing loss of tenure and his teaching position at the State University of California because of trumped up charges based on lies and reverse discrimination. Why do I care and why am I supporting this man?

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As president of the International Children's Rights Institute, Dr. Lopez and I share a passionate advocacy for the rights of children first and foremost. We are both firm in our commitment that those rights must supersede the rights of those who create or obtain children by any means: adoption, reproductive technologies and surrogacy.
Lopez writes ("The Call of a Child," in Jephthah's Daughters):

We all have a right to be born free, not bought, sold or manufactured.

Nobody, gay or otherwise, has a right to deprive us of those rights. Nobody has a "right" to us. To believe that people can have a "right" to another person is to believe in slavery.

When children's rights are violated , human rights are violated, in perpetuity, because even as adults, human beings have been violated if they must contend with memories of being bought or sold for adult whims, uprooted from their heritage, denied the love of both sexes (and therefore all of what makes humanity human), or denied a legacy. The crime against humanity that occurs when an adult violates one of those basic children's rights is a lasting intergenerational crime. It is a violence against the family tree to which another human being is entitled by the eternal life cycle that unites all of us.

That is why I support Dr. Lopez!

Dr. Lopez was raised by lesbian moms, an upbringing which formed his unique perspective and shaped his life's work. Many (myself included) might conclude that he was either adopted or "donor" conceived. While he shares many of the same issues of those populations, Lopez is a remnant of the times before those two options became popularized. He was raised in a time when most children raised by same sex parents were in families headed by divorced people. It was also a time when many gays thought of parenthood as part of a heterosexual norm they rejected.

I support Lopez' right to express his truth based on his unique childhood experience just as I support adopted and donor conceived persons to speak their truths. All voices are vital to the discourse on child creation and acquisition policy-making based on lived experiences. Dr. Lopez is one such brave, outspoken person, whose right to do so I support.

The rights of children has led me throughout my lifetime to collaborate toward common goals with colleagues who are of all faiths or no faith and with those who are pro-choice as well as those who are pro-life; Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens and Independents. It matters not. Advocating for child rights makes for strange bedfellows.

Thus it matters not that Dr. Lopez is a conservative and I am liberal or that Dr. Lopez opposes same sex marriage and I support it (though I have serious concerns about falsified birth certificates that are issued for all adoptees and in the case of same sex adoptions would list an impossible biological phenomenon. See also Parental Equality not Adoption Equality)

I do not disapprove of Lopez' beliefs and conclusions. I disagree and despite our differences, I write in support of this Associate Professor of English Literature's fight to maintain his position at the University of California, Northridge because I support his right to his speak his truth as an American and as a child of a non-traditional household, and because I admire and support his dedication to child rights.

The persecution of Dr. Lopez began when an unidentified student complained about an October 2014 International Children's Rights Conference called The Bonds that Matter, organized by Lopez. The conference featured noted speakers on divorce, third party reproduction, and adoption. The complainant alleges she was "coerced" to attend the conference that was held forty-minutes off campus at the Reagan Library. Lopez presented documentation indicating that none of his students had to attend the conference. It was one of two options offered to students in the course, and one that most students chose. The complainant further claims that it was triggering for gay and lesbians and caused her to break down "in tears, crying."

Austin Ruse is president of the Center for Family & Human Rights, a New York and Washington DC-based research institute in Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council. He is also a bi-weekly columnist with Crisis Magazine. According to Ruse Lopez' accuser claimed that speakers at the conference explained that "all women who use sperm banks are evil" and that "gay people cannot be good parents." She also complained about a brochure produced by the Ruth Institute she picked up at the conference aimed at the "victims of the sexual revolution" including those who tried the gay life and now want out.

Lopez says there was no mention of same-sex marriage or any "gay issues" at the conference and he presented video of all sessions to prove it. Ruse reports:

There was one exchange between Newman and one student who asked about gays and surrogacy, but the student turned out to be the complainant. So, the only person who brought up the gay issue at the conference was the student who complained the conference slammed gays.

Lopez was formally charged with "discrimination," one of the few charges that can result in revocation of tenure and dismissal. However:

After a year-long investigation, the university returned a report to Lopez on October 16. The charge of "discrimination" had disappeared. In its place was a charge of creating a "hostile learning environment," something that appeared for the very first time in this document, and the charge of "retaliation."

The young woman charged that even though Lopez gave her an "A" in the class, he did not nominate her paper for an award because there was "bad blood" between them. There was no proof of such a assertion, only her word against his, but the university has determined that her credibility is superior to his and so they have found he is guilty of retaliatory acts and they are now considering what to do with him.

Lopez believes the student making the complaints had long been investigating him, reading his work in The Federalist and First Things and asking questions about him. She was likely also aware that three years ago Lopez wrote in an academic online journal The Public Discourse, revealing that he is bi-sexual and was raised by lesbian mothers. Lopez's negative feelings about his own upbringing, and those of others unhappy with having been raised in same-sex households, are the impetus of his personal campaign against same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption and same-sex surrogacy. She may have also read articles that eventually comprised the anthology he co-edited, Jephthah's Daughters: Innocent casualties in the war for family "equality," one of five books Lopez has authored.

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Lopez says that in the midst of the university investigation the gay Human Rights Campaign issued a report that charged Lopez with spreading anti-LGBT hate around the globe, and mentioned his employment at CSU.

Ruse concludes
:

Even if Lopez keeps his job, the Big Gay Hate Machine has won a victory. Even Lopez might trim his sails in the coming months and years. After all, who wants to go through something like that again. Moreover, the warning is strong to all other academics who might be tempted to stray from the liberal plantation. You do so at your own and your family's peril.

A CitizenGo petition is directed to Chancellor Timothy P. White beseeching him to drop all charges against Lopez "including but not limited to, charges of retaliation, discrimination and creating a hostile environment." The petition calls the charges frivolous and claims the investigation violates Dr. Lopez's due process rights. "Academic freedom and free inquiry will be stifled, if the charges against Dr. Lopez are allowed to stand."

Another petition at Change.org is addressed to Provost, Dr Yi Li. The petition opposes what it calls an "attack on intellectual and moral freedom," stating:

Dr. Lopez has committed no breach of his contract, but is being bullied by those outside the university who are interfering with its concerns in order to impose a single ideology on the entire university system and indeed on the world....

The activists who have stirred up spurious complaints about him and presumed to send the Dean of his Faculty negative opinions of him are intolerant, officious extremists who want to stamp out all opinions apart from their own. They label his conservative views and concern for the rights of children "bigotry" to justify witch-hunts reminiscent of the McCarthyite era.

We call for the specious charges against Dr. Lopez to be dismissed and for Dr. Lopez to be allowed to continue with his job without further harassment or penalties of any kind.

We are living in changing times. We need to be open to hearing the experiences of those born of "donor" conception and surrogates, adoptees and those raised in same-sex homes no matter how that came about. All of these points-of-view - whether for or against these reproductive technologies - are vital for informing policies for these practices.

Within the adoption community, we accept and encourage all personal opinions and experiences. International and inter-racial adoptees write about and speak their truth in blogs and in books such as Split at the Root, The Language of Blood, Fugitive Visions, In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories as well as many documentaries. These brave adoptees raised in inter-racial families are encouraged and welcomed to share their experiences without any accusations of being racist or ethnocentric, whether for or opposed to international or inter-racial adoption.

Inclusivity of these divergent views is evident, for instance in the book, The International Adoption Debate. It is from this same place of courage to speak out without feeling obligated to only praise the sacrosanct institution of adoption that Lopez compiled the 464 page anthology, Jephthah's Daughters. It is a collection of writings, neither for or against gay marriage but rather focusing on the seeming "side issues" that became entangled in the war for marriage "equality" in an effort to bring understanding to why "something viewed by so many as beneficial was actually harmful to so many more."

If Black, Hispanic and Asian persons adopted by Caucasians can freely speak, out without recrimination, about the pain that inter-racial adoption caused them - and many do - why can't a person raised by two mothers speak his truth without recrimination and accusations of homophobia?

I do not share all that Dr. Lopez proposes but welcome his unique experience because it is important and needs to be embraced, not silenced. I do not agree with all of Dr. Lopez's suggestions, but I absolutely believe that an institute of higher learning "should aim to positively encourage diversity of opinion and should never be dictated to by a self-interested lobby group who are not part of academia and who are opposed to moral and intellectual freedom."

Many disagree with Dr. Lopez, but few have walked in his shoes. He is a man of peace and words are his only weapons. Je suis Charlie. The right to free speech needs to apply not only when we speak out against common enemies, but also when one has the courage to go against the tide and speak their truth. I hope the university will re-think this unfortunate investigation and stop acting like thought-police.