Photo: Southbanksteve /Wikimedia
Late last month, the law societies of Ontario and Nova Scotia voted against recognizing the validity of law degrees granted by the fledgling Trinity Western University School of Law in Langley, British Columbia.
What does this mean? Students who graduate from those law schools cannot be admitted to the bar in Ontario or Nova Scotia. Without any further evidence, they are assumed to be so bigoted that they cannot be allowed to practice law in these provinces.
Why? There is only one reason: because Trinity Western University explicitly does not approve of gay marriage. TWU is a Christian institution with a Community Covenant whereby students voluntarily pledge that they will abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
TWU is fully within its rights to have this policy; it is on constitutional grounds and no law society is attacking it directly. But, despite the supposed freedom of religion, TWU is now being ostracized. Clearly, among upper-crust professionals, support for gay marriage has come to be viewed as obligatory to the point of being a litmus test of whether admission among their numbers will be allowed at all.
How far we have come in such a short time. Back in 2005, before same-sex marriage became legal in Canada, supporters of traditional marriage still had the perceived backing of the majority, and our views were treated with (at least feigned) respect and consideration. Less than a decade later, defenders of traditional marriage are being shunned as equivalent, for all intents and purposes, to racists of the old American South.
As such, those lawyers who favoured recognizing TWU’s law degrees now feel the heat to defend and justify themselves, as Vancouver lawyer Tony Wilson did yesterday in the Globe & Mail. Mr. Wilson clarifies that, “My decision to approve TWU wasn’t misguided or cowardly,” and he explains that although he is an atheist, he voted in favour of TWU “[b]ecause I believe in the rule of law, and the rule of law must be paramount in a free and democratic society.”
Alas, should the recent Mozilla incident be any indication of the fervour that Mr. Wilson is up against, no amount of logic or rational justification will prevail. His defence of TWO may be in line with the law, but to his colleagues, it is nonetheless an unpardonable breach of the party line. Such a small thing as the rule of law cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the progress of secular liberalism.
In 2005, when same-sex marriage was first legalized in Canada, contrary opinions were swept away with reassurances regarding freedom of religion and conscience, and freedom of speech. Back then, there was even serious talk of a federal religious protection act in light of same-sex marriage.
Looking back, that first marriage commissioner who was fined $2500 in 2008 for refusing to marry same-sex couples should have served as a red flag to every profession, even as many may have considered it to be an isolated case of direct servants of the state.
If marriage commissioners are the harbingers, worse is on the way. In 2011, the Saskatchewan government stipulated that marriage commissioners will lose their jobs unless they marry same-sex couples. And now the ideological net is already being cast much wider, to include the legal profession.
This should be a jarring wake-up call. The vote of the law societies of Ontario and Nova Scotia reaches far beyond TWU. It is really a judgement passed on every lawyer and law student in our country, no matter where they graduated.
The law societies may have no way (at present) of identifying the personal beliefs of most lawyers in time to prevent them from passing the bar, but if they could, they surely would. The clear message they have sent to us all is that any lawyer who does not approve of same-sex marriage is unfit for the bar. Shocking!
Think about it: once Christians and others who oppose the liberal agenda are removed from the practice of law, it won’t take much for our legal protections to spiral downward.
I can only wonder what is coming next.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
In our own times, the poem could go something like this:
First they came for the unborn babies, and I did not speak out — Because I was not an unborn baby.
Then they came for the marriage commissioners, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a marriage commissioner.
Then they came for the Christian lawyers, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Christian lawyer.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
Coming from a background of Communism, I find a totalitarian future much more easy to believe than generations of North Americans who have come to think of freedom as something secure that can never be whisked from under their feet.
The incredible thing is how our freedoms are already being narrowed even as life continues on as normal, and most people neither notice or care. Our everyday life is so very comfortable. It seems like nothing serious could possibly be going on that would drastically affect our liberties. We continue to focus happily on shopping, crafts and DIY projects, sports, hobbies, reading fun fiction, or whatever.
When will times change enough that the masses will actually feel it and get serious?
In 1989-90, my parents and I sat by the television on the edge of our seats, watching as millions of people protested in Russia and Eastern Europe and finally brought down Communism. It took over 50 hard years under outright dictatorship to get to that point. Generations of people had their entire lives derailed and even destroyed by a mistaken ideology before the masses finally demanded freedom and took back their countries.
What will it take for the truth to triumph in our current debate about sexual morality? I know that as always in history, the truth will be restored and recognized in the end.
I hope that I will live to see that moment. But as I watch the skies blacken and the winds of the hurricane gather overhead, I doubt that the moment of truth and liberation will come anytime soon.
Lea Singh graduated from Harvard Law School and practised as a barrister in New York. These days she is the mother of three children and a fulltime homemaker living in Ottawa, Canada. This piece is reposted from her blog.