In an interesting turn of events, the law firm hired by House Republicans to defend the Defense of Marriage Act has filed a motion to withdraw from the case. Simultaneously, the lawyer formerly assigned to carry out that case has resigned in protest. Many suspect that the law firm King & Spalding dropped the case after buckling under pressure from gay rights groups, which had been protesting at the firm's Atlanta offices. The resignation letter of partner Paul Clement, who was solicitor general under George W. Bush, seems to confirm that suspicion.

"My resignation is, of course, prompted by the firm's decision to withdraw," writes Clement in a letter to the firm's chairman. "I resign out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do."

Republicans in the House of Representatives sought an outside firm to defend the law, which allows states to not recognize gay marriages performed in other states, after the Justice Department said it would no longer defend challenges against it. Today's drama at King & Spalding won't necessarily interrupt the case. Clement notes that he will pickup the case with his "new colleagues" at Bancroft PLLC. While the Harvard-educated lawyer is already being championed as a kind of hero among conservatives, the liberals at Think Progress are lauding the firm's decision to withdraw as a win for gay marriage advocates by a firm that has already "earned high marks for its employment practices regarding gay attorneys and staff."

Here's a copy of Clement's resignation letter: