House to Spend $500k on Defense of DOMA

Boehner's House Republicans to spend $500k defending DOMA

In the ongoing fight to repeal DOMA in the U.S. House of Representatives, it has come to light that the House Republicans are on the hook to pay over $500,000 in legal fees in their defense of DOMA. This is absurd, especially in a time when the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail about reducing deficit spending.

Tell me, Speaker Boehner, why in the world would you spend half a million dollars defending something that denies rights to a minority? Surely you have other more pressing priorities, especially in a time when our country’s debt has ballooned to unsustainable levels and our debt has been downgraded by one of the biggest ratings agencies in the world?

King & Spalding's Paul Clement to Defend DOMA

Oh, and the story gets juicier. The lawyers in question who are being paid these enormous legal fees to defend DOMA in federal courts? Partners John Clement, Daryl Joseffer and Jeffrey Bucholtz, from King & Spalding in Atlanta, GA. This is a firm that proudly talks about their LGBT lawyers and staff.

The firm has offices all over the world, and its website says that the firm “actively recruits LGBT law students and seeks opportunities to partner with LGBT student organizations….[our] non-discrimination policy prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Their website even has a “diversity” section that highlights the gayness of some of their lawyers – and talks of the firm’s domestic partner benefits and HRC Rating of 95 out of 100.

Hypocrites! The House and King & Spalding even realize how hypocritical they appear, as they have included a gag order in the five-page contract that was signed between the firm and the House Republicans.  The gag order seems to target the firm’s LGBT employees from speaking out. The order states:

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 firm is billing $520 per hour, with a cap of $500,000, during the duration of the court fight – slated to end on January 2013. It’s good to know that there is a price on hypocrisy for King & Spalding – they’re pretty cheap, too! Although let’s be honest here: This firm never really gave a shit about gays to begin with. Out of 800 employees worldwide, less than 1% identify as LGBT – so that makes a measly 8 employees representing the firm’s “LGBT diversity.”

HRC has responded, saying they are already reevaluating King & Spalding’s score. “If you take on a case that is hostile to LGBT people,” said Fred Hainz, a spokesman, “that is an immediate grounds for points to be deducted from your score….And this particular case [defense of DOMA] is off the charts in terms of its impact on LGBT families.”

And our friends over at the Family Research Council? Well, they think this is $500k well spent:

America spends $112 billion a year just from divorce and out-of-wedlock births…the U.S. budget would become a free-for-all for domestic partner benefits and other perks that the law currently prevents.

According to experts, the price tag—just for same-sex partner benefits—is roughly $670 million over the next ten years. Add that to the cost of family breakdown, and suddenly the legal fees don’t seem that much.

A petition has been launched since the news broke this week. Let’s hope that those 8 employees get the message, and leave King & Spalding. The firm is clearly using them to fill a quota.

How do you feel about the House spending $500k to defend DOMA in this time of supposed austerity?