October 30, 2014
For Immediate Release: Victory for Equality for Lawyers
“It is a proud day to be a lawyer,” said lesbian lawyer barbara findlay QC . The Law Society has just announced that more than 2/3 of lawyers who voted in a referendum that the decision to accredit Trinity Western University’s proposed law school be reversed. A total of 8039 lawyers voted; of those, 74% voted in favour of the resolution.
The Benchers (governors) of the Law Society have already said that if one third of the lawyers in the province voted, and if two thirds of those voted agreed that accreditation of TWU be withdrawn, they would be bound by that vote. The Benchers meet tomorrow.
TWU requires its students, staff and faculty to sign a covenant saying that they won’t have sex unless they are in a heterosexual marriage – a condition impossible for gay and lesbian students, and one that discriminates against heterosexual common law couples as well.
The Minister of Advanced Education, which approved TWU’s law school as a degree granting institution, has said that the Province may withdraw that approval if the Law Society will not accredit its graduates to practice law in the province.
Opposition to the Benchers’ decision by TWU was organized by Michael Mulligan, who coordinated a petition which under the rules of the Law Society required the Benchers to hold a Special General Meeting to consider a resolution to reverse the Benchers’ accreditation decision. That meeting, held in June, was the largest meeting of lawyers in BC history; and the attendees voted 77% in favour of reversing the accreditation decision.
Said Mulligan, “Respect for equality is a foundation principle of the rule of law and should be a foundation principle of the legal profession. I am delighted that the profession agrees so wholeheartedly with that principle, and that the Benchers will move forward on that basis.”
Jill Bishop, a newly-called lawyer who attended TWU as an undergraduate, Jill Bishop, an articled law student who attended TWU as an undergraduate, said, “I am so proud to be entering the profession knowing that my colleagues stand up for principles of equality. The experience of being educated at TWU was very oppressive to me as a lesbian who had to sign the restrictive covenant. I am so glad that the Benchers will be reversing their decision.”
Arguing that the results of that vote were not binding on them, the Benchers voted to hold a second vote by lawyers, this time in the form of a referendum. It is the results of that referendum which are released today. The Benchers’ next meeting is tomorrow.
barbara findlay QC* 604 251-4356 or 778 968-1060; email@example.com
Mike Mulligan 250 888-4480 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill Bishop 778 363 3228 email@example.com
NOTE: findlay’s name is spelled without capital letters.
barbara findlay QC
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