The law firm King & Spalding has become the new face of the anti-gay marriage movement — in signing on to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, the firm has also silenced its employees from advocating in support of same-sex marriage.
On Monday, House GOP and Spearker John Boehner (R-Ohio) retained former President George W. Bush’s Solicitor General Paul Clement — a partner in the D.C. law firm King & Spalding — to defend the constitutionality of DOMA.
The contract, which was entered into with U.S. House of Representatives General Counsel Kerry Kircher on behalf of the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to defend DOMA in court, contains a provision that prohibits all King & Spalding attorneys and non-attorney employees from any advocacy to “alter or amend” DOMA.
The paragraph in question states that “partners and employees who do not perform services pursuant to this Agreement will not engage in lobbying or advocacy for or against any legislation … that would alter or amend in any way the Defense of Marriage Act and is pending before either the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate or any committee of either body during the term of the Agreement.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has called King & Spalding’s decision to take up the defense of DOMA a “shameful stain” on the firm’s reputation.
The gag order “provision adds insult to injury,” Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president of communications, told Metro Weekly. “Not only is K&S promoting discrimination, they also are muzzling their own employees from opposing discrimination and doing what’s right.”
Lambda Legal told Metro Weekly that in some states the provision might be illegal. In California, where King & Spalding has two offices, the Labor Code Section 1101 prohibits employers from forbidding or “preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics.”
“The bottom line is that K&S was under no obligation to take this case. They consciously chose to defend a law that discriminates against LGBT Americans, including K&S’s LGBT employees and clients,” said HRC president Joe Solmonese.
“Discrimination, no matter how profitable, is never good business. What’s especially appalling and ironic is that K&S ignored its own highly touted commitment to diversity by taking on this unprincipled engagement,” Solmonese said.