Adam Liptak of The New York Times writes:
It’s not every day that a leading law firm fires a client for holding a position so extreme that it may be said to be unworthy of a defense. And it is rarer yet — unheard of, really — when that client is the House of Representatives and the position in question is a federal law.
Yet that is just what King & Spalding, a venerable Atlanta firm, did last week. Under pressure from gay rights groups and apparently fearful of criticism from the law students it recruits and the corporate clients it serves, the firm said it would not defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act against a challenge that it violates the Constitution.
The episode has so far mostly been discussed as a matter of legal ethics, and the firm has had a rough ride. But there is something larger going on, too.
For many gay rights advocates, the decision amounts to a turning point in the debate — the moment at which opposition to same-sex marriage came to look like bigotry, similar to racial discrimination and the subordination of women.
I think it is possible to believe that opposition to same-sex marriage is a form of bigotry, and that pro-LGBT activists were wrong to pressure a law firm to drop a politically unpopular case. What happens when the unpopular cause is one that we believe in?