For more than a year now, I’ve been writing 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:
Several law societies have said graduates of that school would not be allowed to practice law in their respective provinces. Personally, that argument never made sense to me. I believe that, like private Christian schools in the United States, Trinity Western should have the ability to create its own standards for admission, even if those standards are ridiculous, because students would still have to learn and defend Canadian law as written. In other words, their Christian anti-gay bigotry wouldn’t work in the real world.
Now, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has ruled along those lines. In a case decided this week, the Court…
… held that the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society exceeded its authority when it refused to recognize law degrees of Trinity Western University Law School so long as the Christian school’s policy continues to prohibit students from engaging in sexual relations outside of traditional heterosexual marriage. According to the Court, the Society has the authority to deal with the education and qualifications of those who practice law in the province. Its action here however dealt with a University policy that does not affect the quality of its graduates.
It didn’t help that the Barristers’ Society’s argument was full of holes:
[Justice Jamie] Campbell wrote that “lawyers are entitled to believe what they want” and banning Trinity Western students “will do nothing whatsoever to improve the status of LGBT people in this province.”
The judge took issue with inconsistencies in the ban. Someone could hold the exact same beliefs about marriage as a Catholic and yet still be allowed to practise law, he said. Similarly, someone could attend Trinity Western and still practise law in Nova Scotia by attaining their law degree elsewhere or first getting admitted to the bar in another province.
These lawyers were essentially being punished for holding conservative Christian beliefs even if it didn’t affect how they practiced law.
I have to say: I think it’s the right move. Christians should be criticized for their beliefs, but this crosses the line for me. I would rather go after people of faith who use the law to deprive LGBT people of their rights, not those who simply hold abhorrent beliefs.
(via Religion Clause. Large portions of this article were posted earlier)