Late last year, I posted about a proposed new law school in British Columbia affiliated with (Christian) Trinity Western University where gay students who acted on their sexual orientation would not be allowed through the doors:
At the time, I defended the school’s right to exist. My thinking was that, like private Christian schools in the United States, they have the ability to create their own standards for admission, even if those standards are ridiculous — and it wouldn’t ultimately matter since the students would still have to learn and defend Canadian law as written and pass the Canadian version of the bar exam. In other words, their Christian anti-gay bigotry wouldn’t work in the real world.
The law school was accredited earlier this year and classes have begun, but they took a big hit last spring. The Law Society of Upper Canada in Ontario decided that graduates of the school would not be able to practice law in that province:
Ontario’s law society has voted not to accredit graduates of a controversial faith-based law school which has drawn opposition over concerns it would discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Benchers for the Law Society of Upper Canada voted 28 to 21, with one abstention, against accrediting graduates of a proposed law school at Trinity Western University…
The rebuke from Canada’s largest and oldest law society is a major setback for the university, which had already won approvals from the B.C. government, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and the Law Society of B.C. in recent months.
The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society later followed suit (although it was a close vote).
This past Saturday, the New Brunswick Law Society voted 137 to 30 to do the exact same thing. (Though the vote isn’t official until the governing council meets in two weeks.)
I’ve said this before, but I still don’t understand these votes. If the students do the necessary work and pass the required exams to become a lawyer, where they went to law school should be irrelevant, even if it is a place that advocated discrimination. The law is clear regarding the rights of LGBT individuals and even Christian lawyers can’t argue their way out of that.
One of the responses I’ve heard from Canadians is that their law societies (similar to U.S. state bars) require that lawyers serve the public interest. But going to an anti-gay Christian law school doesn’t necessarily negate that — unless the graduates say something like “We won’t represent LGBT clients.” So far, they haven’t said that.
All I’m saying is: let’s judge these future lawyers on their actions, not their personal beliefs.
(Thanks to Bob for the link. Large portions of this article were posted earlier)