Jenner & Block

Profile of Partner Paul Smith Highlights His Impact on Gay Rights

Jenner & Block Partner Paul M. Smith is the subject of a lengthy profile that examines the impact of his 2003 victory for gay rights in Lawrence v. Texas.  Titled “Meet the Lawyer Who Set the Stage for Nationwide Marriage Equality,” the article in Talking Points Memo explains that Paul successfully argued before the US Supreme Court on behalf of two male defendants convicted of the crime of having consensual sex in Texas.  State bans on consensual sodomy were decreed unconstitutional.   Twelve years later, the Court will hear oral arguments in the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges about whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.  The article observes that the case can be traced back to the Lawrence ruling, in which the justices held that the Fourteenth Amendment bans states from outlawing sodomy between consenting same-sex adults.  “The roadmap was right there,”  Mr. Smith says. “Once you take morality off the table and say same sex relationships are essentially the same as heterosexual relationships in peoples’ lives, it’s a hard struggle to find a justification” to outlaw gay marriage.”