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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Is There Now A Hostile Environment For Pro-Traditional Marriage Views At King & Spalding?

King & Spalding has withdrawn from representing the House of Representatives with regard to the Defense of Marriage Act.  King & Spalding was hired after the Obama administration abruptly -- and disingenuously -- changed its legal position recently.

The attempts to intimidate, both politically and sometimes physically, supporters of traditional marriage are nothing new.

The strategy is to define the traditional marriage view as bigotry on par with racism.  Once you accept that premise, then everything else follows and is justified.  Even expressing a legal view that there is no federal constitutional right to same sex marriage -- a view expressed under oath by Elena Kagan -- now constitutes hate speech.

There were numerous boycotts of businesses owned by people who supported Prop. 8 in California, including a boycott organized by an association of law professors

Taking it one step further, there was a widespread campaign to demonize and boycott Mormon-owned businesses in the wake of Prop. 8 in California, documented in my post It's Time To Speak Out Against The Mormon Boycott:
Supporters of gay marriage have reacted with anger at the passage of California Proposition 8, which amended the California state constitution to provide that only marriages that fit the traditional definition (one man, one woman) will be recognized. The resulting protest movement has devolved into anti-Mormon bigotry which has been met with silence by liberal civil rights groups. The anti-Mormon fervor has become so nasty, and is growing at such a pace, that it is time to speak out against the "Mormon boycott."
The anti-Mormon fervor carried over into the legal sphere, as I documented in Anti-Mormonism Again In Gay Marriage Debate.  That post regarded attacks on a Justice Department lawyer whose name appeared on a government brief defending DOMA:

(Note, Sullivan later deleted the tweet, but it lives on in the internet.)

Now the intimidation has moved beyond political supporters of Prop. 8 and Mormons, and into an attempt to deprive pro-traditional marriage groups of their counsel of choice.  As Jennifer Rubin points out (via John Hinderaker), the attempt to intimidate lawyers into not representing pro-traditional marriage clients is part of a deliberate strategy, not a haphazard reaction.

For whatever their reasons, the supporters of gay marriage have chosen the path of intimidation rather than persuasion.  I think this is a mistake, but time will tell.

I wondered what effect the King & Spalding withdrawal would have on lawyers and staff at King & Spalding who support -- along with a majority of Americans and the current President of the United States (until his view "evolves" some more) -- the traditional view that marriage should be between one man and one woman. 

Would such lawyers and staff now be afraid to express their views on the subject, fearing a backlash against their individual careers much as King & Spaulding feared a backlash?  If representing the pro-traditional marriage view is unacceptable for the firm, would there be a hostile work environment for such people?

So I emailed King & Spalding Chair Robert D. Hays, who made the decision to drop the case, with a copy to King & Spalding's director of communications, Les Zuke:
In light of the controversy regarding King & Spalding's withdrawal of representation in the DOMA matter, and Mr. Clement's resignation, I was hoping you could provide me with a statement as to whether, and to what extent, King & Spalding protects the rights of attorneys and staff who wish to express support for, or advocate for, the traditional definition of marriage. Additionally, are you concerned that the public withdrawal of representation in this case may contribute to a hostile work environment for supporters of traditional marriage at King & Spalding, and if so, what steps is King & Spalding taking in that regard.
I spoke with Mr. Zuke this morning, who indicated that he had not seen the email, so I paraphrased it for him.  Mr. Zuke stated that he could "not discuss our internal operations" and declined to comment on the question, other than to forward the statement released yesterday by Hays announcing the firm's withdrawal, plus this statement:
Les Zuke, a spokesperson for the firm, made the following statement with respect to Paul Clement's subsequent resignation from the firm:

"We're sorry to see Paul Clement leave. He's been a good partner, and we wish him the best."
If you were a lawyer or staff member at King & Spalding who supported the traditional view of marriage, would you feel you had a hostile work environment?  Would you be willing to engage in the national debate -- even outside of work -- over gay marriage?

If there are any King & Spalding attorneys or staff who wish to enlighten me on the atmosphere, I'd love to hear from you confidentially.

Update: TPM has a story about the wide range of pressures placed not only on King & Spalding, but also on clients of King & Spalding to pressure the firm to drop the case.  The strategy was to try to hold other clients of King & Spalding responsible for the firm's representation of the House, so another client -- say Coca Cola -- would see protests over the fact that it was using King & Spalding.

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  1. On topic: Despite the '10 midterms, I still sense that the US is teetering on the brink. When I see stories like this, one feels that the rot has penetrated deeply indeed.

    Off topic: a WI item.

  2. Hugo Chavez seems to be in charge these days. between Obama's getting bank presidents and the BP CEO and now this, it sure looks like free enterprise is dead. Here's another one that came out today:


    It is now personal and the mission is always the same: intimidation and government control.

  3. "For whatever their reasons, the supporters of gay marriage have chosen the path of intimidation rather than persuasion."

    They've learned it from the best, of course - Union/Marxist thugs.

  4. Why do people still pay attention to the demented meat puppet named "Andrew Sullivan"?

    "For whatever their reasons, the supporters of gay marriage have chosen the path of intimidation rather than persuasion."

    What else do they have? Logic is against them.

  5. The bigotry of traditional marriage is, if anything, worse than racial bigotry. Traditional marriage has the effect of depriving not only gays, but all singles, of the more than 1000 benefits enjoyed by married people.

    For example: my local Senior Activities Center provides free lunch to seniors over age 60 and to their spouses of whatever age. Such bigotry and discrimination is unsupportable in a free society.

  6. The irony about Proposition 8 in CA is that it passed BECAUSE of the high black and Latino vote that turned out in 2008 to vote for Obama. Still, the gay activists targeted only white Christians in their often violent but always vitriolic attacks.

  7. "For whatever their reasons, the supporters of gay marriage have chosen the path of intimidation rather than persuasion."

    I can only wonder how wise it is for 2% of the population to attempt to intimidate the other 98%.

  8. jimbino, how nice to know that you back same sex marriage simply because not doing so doesn't allow you to get a free lunch.

    But the fact that you will NEVER address is that gays have the right to marry, under the same guidelines as heterosexuals. One gay man has the right to marry one gay woman in every state in the union. The problem is that you have to add a caveat to your reasoning in order to claim that gays cannot marry. I challange you to provide me the name of one state that asks "Are you gay" on any marriage license or has any law that a gay man cannot marry a gay woman.

    You also fail to acknowledge that there are laws that prevent certain male/female couples from being legally married. But you will never talk about that.

    I don't really care what someones reasons for not wanting to legalize same sex marriage are, the bottom line is that same sex marriage provides nothing positive to the continuation of the species. If it were in fact, natural, gay men would be able to impregnate another gay man. There would be no biological differences. But alas, they are.

    It is a fallacy to say that gay marriage benefits the society as a whole. It doesn't. But if you were honest (which I assume you are not) you would admit that same sex marriage is nothing more than a political movement designed to designate gays as a "protected" segment of the American society. Honesty in your movement would include trying to abolish ALL marriage laws, as the state really has no business in granting people a license to do what is an inalienable right. Instead, you want to force down the throats of people who disagree with you your opinions, asking for preferential treatment.

    As to Prop 8, Pasadena Phil is correct; it was not just the Mormon church that came out against same sex marriage, so did black churches all across California. But it is politically incorrect to go after anything black, so the gays attacked Mormons. Christians are such an easy target as long as they are "white" Christians.

    But hey, it's all about a free lunch, you know.

  9. "For whatever their reasons, the supporters of gay marriage have chosen the path of intimidation rather than persuasion."

    They're choosing this tactic because, frankly, it works. People tend to avoid confrontation and it's easier to give in to the intimidators than to actively resist them.

  10. "it was not just the Mormon church that came out against same sex marriage, so did black churches all across California."

    Don't forget Latino churches - Catholic and Protestant.

  11. An update at Hot Air suggests Coca Cola was the mover and shaker.

  12. If Coca Cola leaned on King & Spalding to drop its DOMA client, should we stop drinking straight Coke?

  13. Excellent post Prof. Jacobson. PC Speech codes for conservative lawyers are clearly in vogue. In January you noted Paul Mirengoff's departure from the free speech blogosphere due to firm pressure. And more recently, Ann Althouse was threatened by strangers for her exercise of speech.

  14. Doubly apt phrasing-- mark30339's "firm pressure."

  15. If the firm capitulated to the pressure from other clients to the detriment of one client, it would seem that they have a serious ethical violation/conflict of interest problem. Hope their malpractice insurance is paid up.

  16. Traditional marriage has the effect of depriving not only gays, but all singles, of the more than 1000 benefits enjoyed by married people.

    Tell me that's parody?

    Cuz if it's not, let everyone that was unable to join the military (age, infirmary, etc) DEMAND AN END TO THE DISCRIMINATION because vets enjoy benefits unavailable to non-vets.

    Sheesh... the stupid, it burns!

  17. Conservatives shout about freedom and small government until it means enforcement of their atavistic social values.
    When it comes to rights in a country where rights are enshrined and instutional the burden of proof does not lie with those who wish to affirm rights or equal status the burden of proof in on those who seek to deny it.
    Proposition 8 is at the very least immoral and likely unconstitutional.
    Darleen your logic is bizzare at the least

  18. Royal

    atavistic social values

    I'll make you a bet, Royal. Pick any state prison across the county. I say that the majority of men imprisoned grew up with no father.

    Now try and convince me that the radical, historically unprecedented change you wish by redefining marriage into something it never was (and is premised on the biological fallacy that men and women are fungible) is wiser than adding civil unions for those couples that don't qualify for marriage.