Pepperdine Prez Lashes Out At Anti-Gay Prop 8 Propaganda

It’s the intellectual versus the traditionalists!

Pepperdine University president Andrew K. Benton bit back at the Yes on 8 campaign this week after the activists invoked his institution’s name in an incendiary ad.

The ad in question insisted gay marriage in California would lead to compulsory homosexual education in schools, a fact “confirmed” by Pepperdine Law School professor Richard Peterson, who does not represent the University. Incensed, Benton insisted the campaign stop using Pepperdine’s name. They refused. And now Benton’s calling them out:

Just prior to running a second ad, the campaign announced to us that in their opinion it would be more effective if Pepperdine’s name was back in. They added a disclaimer, albeit so small and bare, that most do not see it. It was not the language which we had suggested. They did not ask us; they told us what they were going to do, and they did it.

Without any involvement in the campaign, Pepperdine has been lionized and vilified. We have been given credit where it is not due and blamed beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings. I, and perhaps many of you, continue to receive words of praise and condemnation from people who are either thanking us, or sharply criticizing us. Whether the writers are for or against Prop 8, I take no comfort from either position as it puts us where we don’t belong — in partisan politics.

Benton says he and his colleagues will “take whatever measures we deem appropriate to correct the misunderstanding.” That’s educator code for “we’re going to kick some ass.”

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #advertising #andrewk.benton #gay stories and more


  • JJ

    According to Pepperdine’s website this Mr. Pederson who appears in the ad is only an assistant professor who himself attended a law school that although accredited is not the kind of place that typically produces scholars.

    Assistant Professors do not have tenure and have contracts that may or may not be renewed.

    As far as President Benton’s comments are concerned the proof is in the pudding. We’ll have to find out Mr. Pederson’s fate over time. I think Mr. Pederson will have a champion in the sanctimonious gasbag and federal money waster Kenneth Starr who is the current dean of the Pepperdine Law School.

  • Paul

    True story: When I was applying to law schools, I e-mailed Pepperdine Law to ask if they offered any classes on sexual orientation and the law. A spokeswoman replied that not only did not they not have any such classes but that they did not tolerate same-sex relationships among students, faculty, or staff because they were necessarily out-of-wedlock relationships. Well, then!

    Curiously, I wrote back and asked if my partner and I had married in Canada, would we then be considered married in the university’s eyes? I received no response.

    I ended up going to a top law school instead and now work at a top law firm.

    Ah well, at least they have a pretty view, right?

  • TheRealJohn

    In response to my inquiry, I was told by the University’s Public Relations department that they have issued the following copy to the press which explains their position: I’m wondering whether they do have legal standing to pursue forcing the ads out of circulation.

    “Pepperdine supports free speech and academic freedom. We respect the right of free speech of all, even when the point of view is extremely controversial.

    The ad is a Yes On 8 campaign ad, NOT a Pepperdine ad.

    Prof. Peterson speaks for himself, NOT the University. If he had appeared in a No on 8 campaign spot, we would feel similarly, and be taking the heat from Yes on 8 supporters.

    The University is neutral. It takes out no political ads, makes no endorsements, in fact Federal law requires that Pepperdine doesn’t support political candidates or propositions.

    Unfortunately for Pepperdine, the ad identifies Prof. Peterson’s affiliation and some people see it as an “endorsement” which it is not. We posted a statement underscoring Pepperdine’s neutral position on our Web site and conveyed that message in an e-mail to California alumni. Our President was quoted in the LA Times with regard to Pepperdine’s neutrality as well.

    We requested to have the Pepperdine name removed from the ad, and the Yes On 8 Campaign accommodated the request for only a couple of days. When a second ad came out, a small, very small disclaimer was inserted along with the Pepperdine name: Title for Identification Purposes, or something like that.

    The University had no say it the matter.

    We will continue to assert the University’s neutral position at every opportunity and as this note attempts, we want to express our deep regret to so many who judge Pepperdine – the entire University – on opinions expressed by one member of our faculty in a highly charged political spot.

    Finally, we have no legal standing with regard to forcing the ads to be taken out of circulation.”

  • Brian

    I went to Pepperdine as an undergrad and have been e-mailing back and forth with them for the last week. Based on those communications and some inside information, it is clear that Pepperdine is trying to have it both ways. It is now actively supporting Peterson and not disavowing the lies he is spewing. Pepperdine wants to tell alumni that it is taking care of this, while not actually doing anything, thus satisfying anti-gay, right-wing donors.

    Believe me — the highest levels of the Pepperdine administration support Peterson and his vile ads 100 percent.

  • fredo777


    Neutral my ass.

  • Anonymous

    I bet Peterson sucks a good one! Anyone who goes on national tv against gays is definitely gay himself and just to brainwashed and supressed (like everyone else at Pepperdine) to come out of the closet.

    Prez Benton is way cool! I hope he fires Peterson!

  • Rick Heintz

    I worked right next to a guy that teaches and sends his kids to pepperdine. He is a supporter for our cause and he told me first hand that the powers that be from the school were livid when the ad came out.

  • marc

    These two statements by the Pepperdine Press office are contradictory:

    The University is neutral. It takes out no political ads, makes no endorsements, in fact Federal law requires that Pepperdine doesn’t support political candidates or propositions.

    Finally, we have no legal standing with regard to forcing the ads to be taken out of circulation.”

    If you have an interest in protecting your federal funding status the you DO HAVE LEGAL STANDING to protect that status. Get your law school faculty working on an injunction!!!

    or you’re just blowing smoke.

  • john

    After 3 yrs., Prof. Peterson is still there. What more does anyone need to know about Pepperdine?

    I’ve heard they also offer a super popular course called Bigotry 101.

  • Matt Duffy

    @john: Indeed — history shows these to have been empty words.

Comments are closed.