Bench Memos

Human Rights Campaign Idiocy

Human Rights Campaign, the gay-advocacy organization, is criticizing Gene Schaerr, the outside lawyer Utah has hired to defend its marriage laws, for “citing his personal religious beliefs as the rationale behind his decision” to take on the assignment:

“It’s alarming that the reason Gene Schaerr gives for  taking this position has nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution or the legal issues at play,” said Fred Sainz, HRC Vice President of Communications. “Schaerr’s entire motivation for taking this anti-equality case is to impose a certain religious viewpoint on all Utahns – and that’s wrong. When you become an attorney, you take an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, not any particular religious doctrine.”

What a muddle of idiocy. It should hardly be a surprise that many religious people will make basic work decisions based on a sense of religious vocation or obligation. It doesn’t follow that they are thereby seeking “to impose a certain religious viewpoint” on others. Schaerr evidently believes in “the constitutionality of traditional marriage”—just as President Obama purported to do until very recently—and there is nothing remotely “wrong” about his “motivation” to work to advance that constitutional understanding.

Nor does the fact that Schaerr’s church supports the perennial understanding of marriage have any significance. Let’s say that a lawyer belongs to a church that supports redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. Does HRC really believe that that lawyer acts improperly if he volunteers to work for a client on a matter in order to help advance that cause?

Update: I’ve just run across Eugene Volokh’s earlier post, which I am pleased to recommend.


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