Lawyers with inside knowledge now say most of the pressure last week to stop former Solicitor General Paul Clement from defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) came directly from his former firm’s principal client, Coca Cola! But that is raising even more questions about why the global beverage king is playing the bully in support of gay marriage.
DOMA, of course, is the law enacted in 1995 with strong bipartisan support and signed by President Clinton to safeguard the institutions of marriage and family based on a father, a mother and their children. When the Obama Administration this month announced that it was refusing to defend this law of the land as it is being challenged before the US Supreme Court, the GOP-led US House of Representatives stepped in to defend the law. To do so, the House retained Clement’s Atlanta’s King & Spalding (K&S), the law firm as its legal counsel. But last week Clement announced that he was resigning his K&S partnership and joining a different firm because K&S had caved in to pressure by abandoning its legal defense of DOMA. Then several top investigative websites, including Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo, reported that it was mega-client Coca Cola, as champion of same sex marriage, that insisted that K & S drop the case.
Before this news, it seemed impossible that any coercion could be enough to cause this blue ribbon firm to act so unethically and so cowardly, especially when doing so would cost them their star partner. While a gay rights group was claiming that it had pressured the law firm into submission, that made no sense. Even crass self-interest would have led K&S merely to laugh off any such pressure from the gay advocacy group, especially when cowardly surrender would predictably unleash a much larger firestorm in other, no less powerful, quarters that would be angered by the crass politics behind the firm’s capitulation.
Whatever the source of the coercion might have been to cause the firm to forsake the legal profession’s proud readiness to represent far less popular causes, it must be someone much more powerful than the meager pressure that a small gay advocacy group might wield.
The new revelation that K&S whimped out so disgracefully because it was given an ultimatum to do so by none other than their mega-client, Coca Cola, at least is more plausible. The leaks say that the global soft drink king told the law firm: Drop the legal defense of traditional marriage … or else.
Of course, this latest explanation still doesn’t even begin to justify the law firm’s astonishing cowardice. But it at least suggests why a cowardly law firm — one that might place its bottom line before honor and principle — might have abandoned its professional responsibility so shamefully.
But even if this explanation about pressure wielded by Coca Cola is true, it merely shifts the perplexing questions to Coca Cola itself. In doing so, this also raises more new questions that remain unanswered. If it all happened just as they say, what might have prompted Coca Cola to do such a thing? Didn’t it know that such skullduggery would almost certainly be exposed? And isn’t a company as big and as powerful as Coke impervious to gay pressure tactics anyway? But even if that’s not the case, wouldn’t Coca Cola then fear the possibility of a massive boycott by the many and diverse defenders of traditional marriage? Isn’t it conceivable that many defenders of traditional marriage might start losing their taste for Coke while developing a thirst for water … or, heaven forbid, for Pepsi?
Questions such as these about Coca Cola’s possible role remain unanswered so far. But it is surprising that, when confronted with these rumors about its alleged use of pressure to discourage the defense of traditional marriage, Coca Cola did not deny the truth of the accusations. (Once again, by the way, America is getting a peak at the partnership of the left with many of the world’s biggest businesses despite the Obama lie that it is the GOP that is the mouthpiece for the world’s wealthiest).
To justify its clandestine conduct, Coca Cola is now trying to wear the costume of a human rights champion. According to Coca Cola, any such pressure that it might have exerted is fully explained by the company’s commitment to tolerance and diversity.
So is Coca Cola right about that — is DOMA’s defense of traditional marriage merely a shameful cloak for bigotry? Of course not. But then what, precisely, is society’s stake in traditional marriage? How does DOMA’s defense of the exclusivity of traditional marriage differ from homophobia? How should an honorable person respond to persons with a same sex attraction? And what should be society’s response when questions about homophobia shift from marriage to such other issues as workplace discrimination?
These are the questions that will be explored in “Part III of the Paul Clement saga.”