By Kyla Cook |Staff Writer|
A law firm hired by the House Republicans to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) withdrew from that case on April 18 and gay rights groups claimed the withdrawal a victory, reported The New York Times.
However, upon withdrawal of the case, Paul D. Clement, partner and assigned lawyer on the case, resigned from King & Spalding and has taken the case over to Bancroft P.L.L.C as a partner and will continue to defend DOMA, reported The New York Times.
DOMA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996 and defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.
DOMA denies same-sex couples of over 1,100 federal benefits and protections such as filing joint taxes; receiving spousal, mother’s and father’s or surviving spouse benefits under social security and receiving equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees, as listed on hrc.org (the Human Rights Campaign).
The reason given for withdrawal of the case by King & Spalding is said to be that the approval process for the case was inadequate rather than from pressure from gay and lesbian advocacy groups, reported The New York Times.
According to Shear and Schwartz, Clement said, “I resign out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters … But having undertaken the representation; I believe there is no honorable course for me but to complete it.”
President of Equality Matters (a queer advocacy group), Richard Socarides said, “Mr. Clement’s statement misses the point entirely. While it is sometimes appropriate for lawyers to represent unpopular clients when an important principle is at issue, here the only principle he wishes to defend is discrimination and 2nd-class citizenship for gay Americans,” Shear and Schwartz quoted.
While gay and lesbian is a term widely used, in correspondence to the CSUSB Pride Center, “Queer is really becoming a more appropriate term and more encompassing than gay or LGBT [Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender],” said Megan Rush graduate assistant, CSUSB Pride Center.
In opposition to DOMA there is the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) which would repeal DOMA.
RMA would restore rights of all lawfully married couples to receive the benefits of marriage under federal law while including same-sex couples.
“The fact of the matter is, it’s [DOMA] going to stay a law until RMA gets enough political support, especially from members of Congress. RMA is important,” said Rush.
Rush said that same-sex couples may not be able to make pertinent decisions, such as medical decisions or funeral decisions, may not receive benefits when someone dies and benefits offered through employers may not be extended to the partner because the relationship is not recognized under federal law.
“The whole point is that same-sex couples may receive the same benefits of opposite-sex couples,” said Rush. “Just equal rights across the board, nothing more and nothing less.”
To understand more about DOMA, RMA or other human rights issues go to hrc.org and visit the CSUSB Pride Center located in the Student Union.