Back in February, LGBT Americans cheered when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama Administration would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court because the law was so blatantly unconstitutional. Never missing an opportunity to hurt committed gay and lesbian partners, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) subsequently declared that the GOP would stick with the Religious Right and defend the indefensible. The conservative lawmaker hired a high-octane legal firm called King & Spalding to represent anti-gay organizations, planning to spend a cool half million of your tax dollars in order to circumvent the U.S. Constitution's Full Faith and Credit clause. Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, a Bush crony and partner in the firm, was hired to make sure same-sex couples remain second-class citizens - the never-ending goal of fundamentalist Christians.
But now the firm, which has often proclaimed its non-discriminatory bona fides, is refusing to stand alongside the haters, and lawyer Clement has packed his bags of bigotry and moved to another firm. King & Spalding chairman Robert D. Hays, Jr. explained his decision like this: "Today the firm filed a motion to withdraw from its engagement to represent the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives on the constitutional issues regarding Section III of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Last week we worked diligently through the process required for withdrawal. In reviewing this assignment, I determined that the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate." Hays' summation: "Ultimately I am responsible for any mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have created."
Amanda Terkel reports for Huffington Post: Shortly after the firm announced that it would no longer take the case Paul Clement, former solicitor general under President George W. Bush and the partner charged with leading the firm's defense, submitted his letter of resignation to Hays... Clement will be joining Bancroft PLLC, according to a press release from that firm, which is led by former Bush administration officials. Viet Dinh, who was an assistant attorney general from 2001-'03, is a founding partner, and H. Christopher Bartolomucci, who served as an associate counsel to President Bush between 2001-'03, is a partner... Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said House leadership were pleased that Clement would still be representing the House. "The Speaker is disappointed in the firm’s decision and its careless disregard for its responsibilities to the House in this constitutional matter," said Buck... King &Spalding came under intense criticism from LGBT rights advocates last week after Boehner announced that former Bush solicitor general Paul Clement, a partner in the firm, would be defending the law that defines federal marriage as between one man and one woman. The firm would receive as much as $500,000 for their work on the case, according to documents...
Over at Equality Matters, Richard Socarides analyzes what this development will mean to fair-minded voters: "Being anti-gay no longer works in mainstream America. That is the message here. Discrimination and second class citizenship is indefensible, even if you are a high priced hired gun. If you are in the mainstream, anti-gay is out. And that's good for all of us."
Homophobes at the Family Research Council view things differently: "Once again we see how the activists who are trying to redefine marriage want to shut down any and all public debate. King &Spalding have proven that they are not advocates for the law -- but for a small but influential cabal that want to undermine policy and society."
I suppose this is where we're supposed to wring our hands and go "Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha" as society is being undermined.
UPDATE: Brian Beutler at TPM suggests that Coca-Cola and other major clients of King & Spalding may have pressured the law firm into dropping out of the case. (Pictured: Clement, Boehner)