Anti-gay-marriage lawyers

Posted on July 9, 2014
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The law society of New Brunswick is currently one of only four Canadian provincial societies that have decided to accredit applications for membership from graduates of Trinity Western University in British Columbia. TWU is an evangelical Christian school whose students sign a covenant to abstain from sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman. Sexual intimacy between same sex partners, even if legally married, therefore violates the covenant.
After the New Brunswick society agreed to accredit TWU graduates, a group of members started a petition to have the decision reconsidered. They may well be justified to have that done. There are differing opinions on how the issue was dealt with at the meeting.
That said, I cannot imagine how the society could refuse to accredit the TWU grads. I vehemently disagree with the idea the covenant represents. When Parliament debated including gays as groups to be protected from discrimination in the revision of the Charter of Rights, I wrote that it was one of those arguments that would seem silly in 10 years. Of course they deserved and needed that protection. And now the question does indeed seem silly.
People, including lawyers, are however entitled to hold different beliefs. Signing the covenant does not signify that TWU grads will try to flout the law. In practical, political terms, it would, I think, probably disqualify any of them from being appointed to be judges but not from practising law.
It is very probable that almost all lawyers and judges disagree with something that is law. Some would disagree with mandatory sentencing. Some may believe in capital punishment. Some undoubtedly think marijuana or prostitution laws should be different. Many must disagree with gun ownership laws.
There is and always has been a tendency among people to equate what they don’t like with what should be illegal or boycotted. People are often willing to punish a corporation for the bad behaviour of a single employee. We see examples every day.
I heard a Maritime Noon discussion of privacy rights recently in which callers were almost unanimous in what corporations or media should not be allowed to do without ever considering the effect such bans would have on what they personally would be allowed to do or banned from doing. If, for example, you don’t think a newspaper ought to be able to take and print a picture of you at a public gathering, do you agree that you should not be allowed to take a picture of your family at the beach if other people are also there? Should you be allowed to post them or circulate them to your friends?
There was a recent instance where a social media posting of a little girl whose face was badly scarred by a dog mauling, claimed she had been asked to leave a fast food outlet because her appearance was disturbing other customers. I’ve not seen any evidence or confirmation it even actually happened. If it did, the thousands of employees and the management of the firm would naturally be as upset about it as you would be. And yet, thousands of people were prepared to punish the entire company and everyone who works for it. The power of public boycott is as susceptible to abuse as any other power. It is also easy to mobilize for nefarious purposes.
When Americans were angry that France would not join them in the invasion of Iraq, which was itself the result of a cooked up story about weapons of mass destruction, someone cooked up the idea that the Target department store chain was a French company and was properly pronounced Tarjay. Total fiction but very damaging to the company even though it should not have been even if true.
We who live in democracies and treasure our freedom should be scrupulously diligent to ensure we extend and protect that same freedom of expression and thought and legal action to everyone else especially those with whom we disagree.
Voltaire biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, described his belief as, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.
I think homosexuals, victims for so long of vicious discrimination, would and should be especially diligent in that regard. I wonder how long ago it was that law societies would not accept to their bar openly gay applicants?
On we go! DAC

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