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Pepperdine Alumni Not Happy With Ken Starr Defending Prop 8

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Dean Ken Starr of Pepperdine's School of Law is representing Prop 8 today at the California Supreme Court, which has alumni angry. "As dean of our alma mater, your advocacy on behalf of Proposition 8 is not only disappointing, it is a disgrace," an open letter to him posted on Facebook says. "While we support any individual's right to free speech, your views and actions are a de facto representation and reflection of Pepperdine University School of Law, as you are its figurehead, and we strongly urge the School of Law to make a public statement underscoring its desire for diversity, which includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students." The University did distance themselves from Prop 8 commercials before the November election, but no press release is posted on their website stating the school's separation from today's case. Full press release from alumni is below.

Subject: Pepperdine School of Law Alumni protest Ken Starr’s representation of the Yes on Prop 8 coalition On Thursday, March 5, 2009, Ken Starr, dean of Pepperdine University School of Law (SOL), will go before the California Supreme Court to defend the validity of the Proposition 8 ballot measure banning gay marriage in California. A diverse group of alumni (Alumni) from the SOL, straight and LGBT alike, have crafted a letter in opposition to Mr. Starr’s advocacy on behalf of the Yes on 8 coalition. “We have no issue with Dean Starr’s personal right to free speech on Prop 8, but the School of Law has not made any effort to separate itself from Mr. Starr’s upcoming appearance before the Supreme Court on this divisive issue, nor has the school made any statement affirming its desire for diversity and inclusion amongst its student body,” said Vikki Karan, one of the Alumni organizers.
The Alumni wish to express their disappointment in Mr. Starr’s advocacy of the Yes on 8 coalition for three reasons:

1. Mr. Starr is the figurehead and public face for the SOL and his personal position on Prop 8 has, in effect, become the de facto position of the SOL.

2. The SOL promotes the “diversity” among its student body to prospective students and purports to strive for diversity. Mr. Starr’s representation undermines the validity of those claims and stated goals.

3. The effect of Mr. Starr’s personal actions has a real impact on the SOL’s reputation, current students’ experiences, and the value of its alumni’s degrees.

The former students are requesting a statement from their alma mater that Dean Starr's actions are not representative of the SOL’s position on Prop 8 and that the school supports equality. "We want Dean Starr and Pepperdine School of Law to know many of its students, past, present and future, support full equality not only in California but across the country," said Jeremy Black, an Alumni organizer currently residing in New York.

The Alumni have created a Facebook group entitled, “Pepperdine Law Alums in Support of Repealing Prop 8” and are encouraging members of the group to update their status to speak out for marriage equality and against Dean Starr’s role as advocate for the Yes on Prop 8 groups. The Alumni intend to deliver the letter to Mr. Starr and other officials at Pepperdine University on March 5, 2009, the date of the hearing.

Starr's defense of Prop 8 coincides with this weekend's Pepperdine SOL Alumni Reunion. Starr himself will be attending the 32nd Annual Law School Dinner which begins 6:30pm on Saturday, March 7th at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Other activities include a Conversation with Justice Antonin Scalia at 12:30pm on Monday, March 9th at Pepperdine School of Law in Malibu, California. Justice Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion in the landmark 2003 U.S. Supreme Court case, LAWRENCE V. TEXAS where he railed against the "so-called homosexual agenda" and “homosexual activists.”

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