Gay rights campaigners target law firms

By Jonathan Ames

16 November 2012 at 11:47 BST

Lobbyists have successfully encouraged a leading Wisconsin law firm to cease advising pro-marriage campaigners in a move that could see lawyers face increasing public pressure over contentious clients in the US.

Proud -- and keen to lobby

Milwaukee-based Foley & Lardner announced that it had ceased to act for the National Organisation for Marriage (NOM) – which has actively campaigned against same-sex unions – following high-profile public pressure from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).


According to a report on the AmLaw Daily web site this week, the development emerged with the release of the Washington DC-based organisation’s annual Corporate Equality Index. The campaign awarded Foley & Lardner one of the highest ratings in the legal sector in this year’s index, which was published this week.
However, the web site points out that only 12 months ago the HRC roundly chastised the law firm for representing the anti-gay marriage group. Indeed, last November, the campaigners wrote an open letter to the law firm’s chairman lambasting the firm for acting for the NOM, which had been heavily involved in supporting a referendum that would have outlawed homosexual marriage in Minnesota. The state’s voters rejected the proposal in last week’s ballot.

Perfect scores

According to the web site, the HRC had threatened to contact Foley clients informing them of the firm’s work for NOM. The report also points out that the campaigning group had already had success with that tactic against Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding, which had been defending proponents of the highly contentious Defence of Marriage Act in litigation around the legislation.
Overall, leading US law firms performed well in the HRC index, with 71 practices receiving perfect scores for equality measures regarding homosexual, bisexual and transgender employees.


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