NC Bar's Sexually Oriented Proposal
Special Report - October 5, 2010
Many Christian attorneys across North Carolina continue to oppose a proposal being considered by the State Bar that would add a non-discrimination statement to the preamble of their rules that would include protection based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” In October, the Ethics Committee of the State Bar is scheduled to consider a third version of a proposed amendment to the Preamble of the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys that would include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in an “aspirational” non-discrimination statement for attorneys. One of the concerns with the proposal is that the language could be a step toward punishing persons of faith whose beliefs do not align with such a statement. This amendment can jeopardize the religious liberties, freedom of speech, and professional judgment of attorneys. Should the proposal pass the Ethics Committee, it will go to the Executive Committee of the State Bar Council for a vote before receiving a vote by the State Bar Councilors. The proposal would then be considered by the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The proposed change to the Preamble would state, “While employed or engaged in a professional capacity, a lawyer should not discriminate on the basis of a person’s race, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. This responsibility of non-discrimination does not prohibit a lawyer’s advocacy on any issue.” In recent letters of objection, attorneys have argued that the addition of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” would take the unwarranted step of providing non-discrimination protection to mutable and objectively unrecognizable and unverifiable characteristics, which are unlike race, age, gender, national origin, and disability. (Religious belief has been a special case because of its explicit protection guaranteed under the U.S. and State Constitutions.)
In addition, attorneys point out that expecting attorneys to embrace, encourage, or facilitate the sexual behaviors that would be included under the proposed language represents a violation of the free speech, conscience and religious rights of attorneys who understand that those behaviors cause spiritual, physical, and psychological harm.
Lawyers should contact the State Bar Councilors from their district as well as Ethics and Executive Committee members, to express their views on this proposed amendment.
N.C. Lawyers Consider Changes - July 14, 2010
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