King & Spalding has been retained by a leading Republican politician to defend the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, and allows any state which doesn't recognise same-sex marriage to ignore a same-sex relationship, even if it's considered a marriage in another state. In other words, your marriage to your gay partner in Vermont will be considered invalid in Mississippi. So you lose out on tax benefits and health care rights and so on.

The law is being attacked as unconstitutional in a dozen or so claims, and Obama has decided to stop frittering away tax-payer's money trying to defend it. House Speaker John Boehner has no such qualms, and is prepared to pay $500,000 on top-drawer counsel to fight any challenges.

So who would take on this hottest of hot potatoes? Step forward King & Spalding partner Paul Clement. Clement was formerly George W. Bush's Solicitor General and has previously acted for those bastions of social responsibility, the National Rifle Association. RollOnFriday guesses he knows which side his bread is buttered on.

    You are now entering King & Spalding country

The engagement letter with the firm makes for interesting reading. Not only is Clement doing it on the cheap (billing at a mere $520 per hour), but clause 4(f) onward seems to suggest that no-one at King & Spalding - which proudly trumpets its diversity credentials on its website - can have any sort of public objection to the law. According to Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader: "the hypocrisy of this legal boondoggle is mind-blowing... spending half a million dollars of taxpayer money to defend discrimination".

The firm confirmed that it was acting, but refused to comment further on the matter.
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