The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has
responded to criticism that the gay rights group pressured King &
Spalding to drop its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by
boasting about its victory.
The Atlanta-based law firm on Monday
it was withdrawing from the case, prompting
partner Paul Clement to jump ship to the Washington-based Bancroft
PLLC, where he'll continue to represent House Republicans, who
took on defending the law that bans federal recognition of the
marriages of gay and lesbian couples after President Obama announced
he would no longer because he believes the law is unconstitutional.
Social conservatives immediately chided
HRC for pressuring the firm to reverse course.
“Led by the so-called Human Rights
Campaign, activists promised to target the firm until its attorneys
dropped the case,” said Tony Perkins of the Christian conservative
group Family Research Council. “Five days later, they did. Unable
– and unwilling – to take the heat, King & Spalding took the
cowardly way out. Once again we see how the activists who are trying
to redefine marriage want to shut down any and all public debate.”
But the accusations didn't appear to
ruffle any feathers at HRC.
“King and Spalding’s clients are
listed on its web site, so we did what you would expect us to do,”
HRC spokesman Fred Sainz told The Washington Post. “We are
an advocacy firm that is dedicated to improving the lives of gays and
lesbians. It is incumbent on us to launch a full-throated educational
campaign so firms know that these kinds of engagements will reflect
on the way your clients and law school recruits think of your firm.”
Sainz acknowledged that his group
contacted the firm's clients to inform them that King & Spalding
was attempting to have it both ways by defending a discriminatory law
while lauding its commitment to diversity.
“We did all of this, and we're proud
to have done it,” he added.