Gay Marriage: Not So Fast

 I wish to respond to Pamela Karlan’s article “Critics of Gay Marriage: ‘You’re Out!’” in the latest issue of Stanford Lawyer [summer]. While her analogy to baseball was a clever means to help us rethink gay marriage, I objected to Karlan’s logic in drawing the conclusion that “same-sex marriages are likely to benefit rather than harm children, as well as the adults who enter into them.” She compares [laws against] gay marriage to banning blacks from professional baseball as perhaps just a tradition that needs to be overturned; implies that since so many heterosexuals change their marriage partners that we shouldn’t “judge people’s relationships by appearances”; implies that since children produced by gay couples are acquired in more costly and cumbersome manners, gay couples somehow want their children more than heterosexual couples do; and lastly cites social science evidence that children produced by couples in gay relationships fair just as well as those in traditional homes.

Irrespective of my personal views on gay marriage, I take issue with Karlan because of her unsupported statements and her bad conclusions. To say, for instance, that gay marriage should be embraced just because it goes against tradition is to infer that all traditions should be opposed regardless of their basis. Also, to suggest that heterosexuals have no basis for objecting to a change in the marriage institution just because it is being misused by a handful of heterosexuals is fallacious reasoning. As to the begatting of children, I have acquired five children in the traditional way and object to anyone implying that I want or love my children less because it was easy for me to conceive. Last but not least, Karlan fails to cite her social science evidence regarding the rearing of children but leaves it as a point of fact, unsupported by names, dates, or reference. 

While I believe in the right of gay couples to live as they wish, before we upset the traditional marriage institution by adopting same-sex marriage, we should do a little better than Karlan does in providing sound reasoning for such a change. 

–Kathryn Monson Latour ’90 Oosterbeek, The Netherlands


Pam Karlan’s reply: Kathryn Monson Latour’s letter seems addressed to an article I never wrote. For example, I suggested that tradition without reflection is what Moneyball teaches us we should rethink, which hardly corresponds to her claim that I proposed that same-sex marriage should be embraced just because it goes against tradition. Similarly, Latour transformed my observations that the children of gay parents who went to great lengths through adoption, artificial insemination, or surrogacy to have a child are likely to enjoy the advantages that come to any child from being wanted into a charge that somehow she loves her children less because it was easy for her to conceive. Finally, as Stanford Lawyer noted, the piece was originally published as an op-ed in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Given the limitations of the form, op-eds virtually never include citations, so I’m baffled at Latour’s criticism that I didn’t include any. If she is actually interested in the social science data, I suggest that she consult, among other sources, the working paper by my colleague Michael Wald to which I refer: Same-Sex Couples: Marriage, Families, and Children, available at sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=203649.


Fiction, Not Fact

 Interesting summer reading recommendations from the faculty in summer ’04 of Stanford Lawyer, but The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning, recommended by Assistant Professor Amalia Kessler, is not a memoir, as listed, but a set of novels. (An adaptation with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh was televised on Masterpiece Theatre as Fortunes of War 15-plus years ago.) I loved [then] Dean Kathleen Sullivan’s recommendation of the brilliant and outrageously funny Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, a totally engaging read. I’ve recommended it lots of times myself. 

–Bethami Auerbach ’74 Falls Church, Virginia

Editor’s note: Auerbach is correct; The Balkan Trilogy is a novel. The error was the editor’s, not Kessler’s.


Clinical Faculty Deserve More 

Although I was thrilled to see clinical education featured in the summer ’04 edition of Stanford Lawyer, the way in which the subject was discussed forces me to raise two issues. 

While I have the utmost respect for Kathleen Sullivan, I could not disagree more strongly with the comments she made about the abilities of clinical teachers. [Then] Dean Sullivan suggests that the great lawyers and teachers who comprise the clinical faculty at Stanford and, I would assume, other law schools, can’t possibly be expected to write scholarship worthwhile of earning them tenure. 

Luckily for me and other clinical professors (great lawyers, teachers, and writers all), many law schools don’t share her view. These schools have found, in fact, that while the duties of clinical professors may be more time-consuming than those of their colleagues (given that we spend a great deal more time in one-on-one interactions with our students as well as representing our clients in a huge array of legal matters), we are still quite capable of producing cutting-edge legal scholarship on both doctrinal and pedagogical matters.

I feel fortunate to have joined the faculty of an institution that appreciates me as a lawyer, a teacher, and a scholar and will consider me for tenure in the future [University of Baltimore School of Law]. I hope that Stanford will someday extend the same honor to its clinical faculty. 

Additionally, while Stanford Lawyer quite rightly highlights the achievements of the Stanford Community Law Clinic since its inception in 2003, that clinic is not the first project staffed by Stanford law students to serve East Palo Alto. Dedicated students and lawyers, with the support of members of the law school faculty, provided legal services to the residents of East Palo Alto through the East Palo Alto Community Law Project for many, many years before the clinic came into being. The failure to acknowledge the end of the East Palo Alto Community Law Project and the excellent training that many of us received by working there—at a time when Stanford Law School offered no other clinical alternatives—is unfortunate. 

–Leigh Goodmark ’94 Vienna, Virginia