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|Atlantans jump in to scold King & Spalding for defending DOMA|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|April 20, 2011 14:26|
An Atlanta litigation paralegal sent an email to the managing partner of the locally-based King & Spalding law firm to express her dismay at the otherwise gay-friendly firm for its decision to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
Pam Rymin, who is straight, also took the opportunity to introduce the firm to her co-worker, Joel Tucker, and his husband Robert Todd, who were legally married in Connecticut on June 10, 2010. She is a litigation paralegal with Buckley & Klein, a law firm focused on assisting those who say they have been discriminated against in the workplace.
"When I read yesterday that K&S has agreed to represent the Congressional GOP in its fight to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, thereby seeking to continue to deny civil rights to a large portion of America’s population, I was very dismayed. Actually I was so angry it took me a full day to be calm enough to write this email," Rymin wrote in an email to Mason Stephenson, managing partner of the Atlanta office.
"Your website would appear to be supportive of the rights of the GLBT community yet agreeing to represent the bigoted views of a group of representatives who have chosen to spend our taxpayer dollars when they claim to want to cut spending is appalling," she wrote.
"Their hypocrisy is over the top. Why would you want your firm to be associated with defending discrimination? Surely K&S is sufficiently profitable that it doesn’t need the hourly work that badly. It’s also quite a slap in the face to your GLBT employees," Rymin added.
"I know I am only one voice and my opinion is my own — I’m not expressing my views for anyone except myself but working in a firm that seeks to help those who have been discriminated against makes it that much more important to speak out. I see the damage discrimination causes every day. I will speak against K&S taking this position to anyone who will listen to me and, with the help of the internet, I can reach a lot of people. I fervently hope that you lose," Rymin wrote.
Rymin also attached in the email a photo of Tucker and Todd.
"I have attached a photograph of a coworker who traveled to Connecticut to marry last year. Their commitment is as real as mine to my husband and doesn’t threaten me in any way. Engaging in efforts to further allow bigotry and hatred to hide behind the cloak of the law is despicable.
"I believe the real reason behind denying the GLBT community the financial and tax benefits that come with marriage boils down to money — it always does but regardless, these are civil rights being denied and that’s wrong. Your participation in defending DOMA is wrong," she added.
Today Tucker, also a litigation paralegal at Buckley & Klein, told the GA Voice he was impressed with Rymin's letter.
"I thought it was awesome," he said. "She thought it was important to show a face of who [K&S] is discriminating against. This is about people and it is affecting Georgia people, too," he said.
Tucker said he was also extremely disappointed to hear that K&S agreed to defend DOMA because he and his husband are "keeping our fingers and toes crossed that DOMA is overturned."
"It's painful that this is locally based," Tucker said. "It's an affront to King & Spalding and to Atlanta, the birthplace of civil rights. It's shocking. To me, King & Spalding values discrimination at $500,000."
In an interview, Rymin said that the prohibition of legal same-sex marriage and the benefits that come from it "is such a done issue."
"It's time to let it go," she said.
She also hopes that enough people locally become angered by King & Spalding's decision to protest, contact the firm and perhaps even hold a rally.
"They are a large presence in the city and there is a large gay population here. For them to defend discrimination is wrong. They need to be held more accountable."
The national Human Rights Campaign is currently targeting a campaign against King & Spalding, which in the past has scored very well on its annual Corporate Equality Index, for its decision to participate in the DOMA defense at $520 an hour.
King & Spalding was tapped by House Speaker John Boehner to defend DOMA on behalf of House Republicans at a total cost of more than $500,000 in taxpayer dollars. President Barack Obama announced earlier this year he was not going to spend resources defending DOMA.
King & Spalding attorney Paul Clement, former U.S. Solicitor General under George W. Bush, works in the K&S Washington, D.C., office and is lead attorney for the House Republicans in the DOMA defense. A call to office today was answered by an assistant who said he had no comment.
Les Zuke, director of communications for King & Spalding based in New York, also declined to comment on the firm's decision to defend DOMA.
"As a matter of policy King & Spalding does not discuss client representation. There is nothing I can add to your story," he said.
Top photo: Joel Tucker (left) and Robert Todd of Atlanta were legally married in Connecticut last year and are among many Atlantans angered that locally-based law firm King & Spalding agreed to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. (courtesy photo)
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