LGBT students at Atlanta's Oglethorpe University plan to protest Monday during a lecture by Matthew J. Franck, a leader of a conservative group that opposes gay marriage.

“I was just getting so infuriated that he was coming to our school,” Oglethorpe junior Brittany Weiner told Project Q Atlanta. “Nothing is more personal to me than saying I can’t marry the person I love. Oglethorpe is such an accepting community that I couldn’t believe it."

Weiner is planning the protest with her partner, Jess Graner, and OUTlet, the campus LGBT group. Details are posted on a Facebook page with the slogan "Marriage is a Human Right, Not a Heterosexual Privilege."

LGBT Oglethorpe students to protest lecture against gay marriage

The protest is scheduled for Monday, March 7, from 4-5 p.m. in the Talmadge Room of Oglethorpe’s Emerson Student Center. Protesters are encouraged to wear purple shirts and will be given rainbow stickers to place on their cheeks. Organizers also want them to sit together during the lecture.

Franck is director of the William E. & Carol G. Simon Center on Religion & the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J.

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.

In a column in the Washington Post, Franck also implicitly defended a professor who describes homosexuality as “addictions and compulsions” and calls gay and lesbian people “walking wounded.”

“I applaud reminders that people who identify themselves as gay or lesbian are people, fellow humans who deserve affection and respect. However, I decry attempts to legitimize their addictions and compulsions,” Dr. Tom Hilton, of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, told students last fall as he attempted to discourage a Queer Film Festival at the university.

“These, our fellow humans, deserve our best efforts to help them recover their lives. We only hurt them further when we choose to pretend that these walking wounded are OK the way they are, that their present injuries are the best they can hope for in life,” Hilton wrote.

Franck referenced the controversy in December in a column for the Washington Post that protest organizers quote on their Facebook page.

“In the debates over gay marriage, ‘hate’ is the ultimate conversation-stopper,” Franck wrote.

Among the examples, Franck vaguely refers to the Eau Claire situation, without including that what Hilton said went well beyond simply opposing gay marriage:

At another midwestern state university, a department chairman demurs from a student organizer’s request that his department promote an upcoming “LGBTQ” film festival on campus; he is denounced to his university’s chancellor, who indicates that his e-mail to the student warrants inquiry by a “Hate and Bias Incident Response Team.”

According to Oglethorpe’s online calendar of events, Franck’s lecture is 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.”

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.


Editor’s note: This article has been revised since its first publication to correct an error. The original version of the article incorrectly attributed the quote about “walking wounded” to Franck, instead of Tom Hilton, the professor he defended.

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