Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jenner & Block's work weighs in Connecticut same-sex marriage ruling --

Paul Smith a personal friend works diligently on LGBT issues thank Paul

Jenner & Block's work weighs in Connecticut same-sex marriage ruling --

Court's opinion reflects some of brief's thinking
By Ameet Sachdev | Chicago Tribune reporter
October 14, 2008
Jenner & Block had a hand in Friday's groundbreaking decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage.

A team led by partners Paul Smith and William Hohengarten co-wrote a legal brief on behalf of the American Psychological Association and other organizations in support of eight same-sex couples who sued in 2004 after they were denied marriage licenses.

The document cites scientific research to strike at some of the conventional notions about gay parents not being as fit as heterosexual parents and children of same-sex couples struggling with sexual identity issues. These arguments have been used to support gay-marriage bans in several states.

"We come in and say, 'Look, none of this is true,' " Smith said. "Children do just as well when they have same-sex parents."

Smith took a measure of pride in the outcome because the court's opinion reflects some of the thinking in the brief.

In ruling that same-sex couples have a legal right to marry, the Connecticut court went beyond the constitutional principle of equal protection and into the sphere of social justice. It recalled past laws that banned interracial marriage and excluded blacks from some facilities.

"Like these once prevalent views, our conventional understanding of marriage must yield to a more contemporary appreciation of the rights entitled to constitutional protection," Justice Richard Palmer wrote for the majority in a 4-3 decision.

This is the not first time Smith, 53, who works out of the law firm's Washington office, has weighed in on the same-sex marriage controversy. He has represented the American Psychological Association, a longtime client, in several state cases, including California, Massachusetts and Iowa. Connecticut became the third state, behind Massachusetts and California, to legalize gay marriages.

"The country is getting used to the idea of same-sex marriage," Smith said. "This is a process that will go on culturally and legally for a number of years."

His reputation as a legal advocate for gay rights goes beyond the issue of same-sex unions. In 2003, he delivered the oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court for two Texas men who had been charged with violating the state's anti-sodomy laws. The case invalidated not only the Texas law, but all anti-sodomy laws.

Briefly:Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal opened an office in Zurich, Switzerland, to expand its practice representing hotel owners and operators. … Seyfarth Shaw added nine real estate and corporate and finance lawyers in its Los Angeles office. All were previously with Sonnenschein.

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