Attorney Fired for Sex Film Work

Matt O'Conner
ATLANTA — Attorney Rich Merritt claims he was fired by the law firm of Powell Goldstein because he told his employers that his soon-to-be released memoirs contained details about his work in gay adult videos.

Merritt said the firm’s negative reaction to the news is one of the reasons he wrote “Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star” — to help remove the stigmas associated with adult entertainment.

“Today’s political climate and the continuing loss of separation between church and state and public and private life in our country seem to me to demand that we tell our stories, especially when personal freedoms are involved,” he said.

Merritt first came to the public’s attention in 1998. After being featured anonymously in a New York Times Magazine article on gays in the military, Merritt’s identity — and the fact that he had performed in adult films — was revealed by the Advocate.

While still in the Marines, Merritt performed in eight films for All Worlds Video under the name Danny Orlis.

Merritt said he wrote the book, to be published June 7 by Kensington Books, to chronicle the loss of privacy and public harassment that followed his outing, as well as the harsh realities of his fundamentalist Christian upbringing and the good and bad of gay adult entertainment.

But the law firm wasn’t interested in his reasons.

“They told me some of the contents in the book would diminish my effectiveness as an attorney with clients,” Merritt said.

The firing, he added, was not a complete surprise. “It was a risk I took. I knew it might happen. This was definitely a top-down decision,” Merritt said.