The gay rights group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has posted an exit memo by a BigLaw attorney who left his firm so he could fight gay marriage full-time in Utah.
The HRC leaked the exit memo the week after Utah’s attorney general announced that the lawyer Gene Schaerr was leaving his firm Winston & Strawn so he could work exclusively on the state’s fight against gay marriage.
Schaerr apparently has personal reasons for pursuing the appeal of a judge’s order finding the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional and effectively legalizing gay marriage in the state. (The U.S. Supreme Court has since put a hold on gay marriages in Utah until the appeals court can weigh in on the issue.)
Here’s the exit memo, which was posted by HRC.
The HRC points out that Schaerr’s religious reasons for seeking to keep gay marriage are illegal in Utah. The state cited other, non-religious reasons for opposing gay marriage in a motion filed with the Supreme Court — including the supposed fact that having a mother and a father is better for a child’s development.
Business Insider reached out to Schaerr’s old firm, Winston & Strawn, to find out whether it had any interest in representing Utah in its fight to overturn gay marriage. We received this response, which does not answer the question:
Gene Schaerr, our former partner and formerly one of the co-leaders of our appellate and critical motions practice, has decided to resign from the firm in order to take a position as Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Utah in order to lead the State’s appellate efforts in the Kitchen, et al. v. Herbert et. al case. Linda Coberly will continue to lead the firm’s appellate practice and will facilitate a seamless transition for our clients. The firm wishes Gene all the best.
Schaerr is not the first lawyer to leave his big law firm to join an anti-gay crusade. The famed lawyer Paul Clement left King & Spalding after the firm decided to stop representing House Republicans in their fight to keep the anti-gay Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) alive.
Clement went on to argue in favour of DOMA before the Supreme Court. He lost his case.
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