Rules of Professional Conduct would include “sexual orientation,” and “gender identity.”
North Carolina Family Policy Council
The North Carolina State Bar is considering adopting a controversial provision that could threaten the First Amendment rights of attorneys throughout the state who object to the promotion of homosexuality. The proposed amendment to the Preamble of the Rules of Professional Conduct would include the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in a list of nondiscrimination categories. The proposed amendment states, “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.” If the proposed amendment is approved by the Ethics Committee and the Executive Committee of the State Bar Council in their meetings on July 22, the entire State Bar Council would vote on the proposed provision on July 23.
In response, many attorneys from across North Carolina have expressed their opposition to the proposed amendment. Over 30 Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) allied attorneys have emailed the State Bar in support of a June 22 letter that urges the State Bar to reject the pro-homosexual provision. “Of the many constitutional protections contained in the First Amendment, the free exercise of religion is perhaps the most revered of all,” the letter states. “Many religious individuals adhere to certain moral precepts regarding sexual behavior. And religiously motivated attorneys are constitutionally entitled to refrain from offering their services under particular circumstances. Yet, although these attorneys are constitutionally entitled to conduct themselves in accordance with their religious convictions, their actions might be characterized as ‘sexual orientation’ discrimination under the proposed provision, and ethical charges might be brought against them. This threat to the religious liberties of attorneys should compel the State Bar Association to reject the proposed provision.”
“Adding the words ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ would create a protected status for and affirm behaviors that many understand to be harmful physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Including these terms would violate the United States’ and North Carolina’s Constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and religion for attorneys practicing law in North Carolina,” said Jere Royall, legal counsel for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “We encourage lawyers to contact the State Bar Councilors from their district as well as Ethics and Executive Committee members, to express their views on this proposed amendment.”
This story was used by permission of the North Carolina Family Policy Council.