A small group of North Carolina attorneys are working to pass special regulatory protections based upon sexual orientation and “gender identity,” which would include pedophiles, transsexuals, polygamists, and anyone else based on their stated sexual orientation or gender identity. They’re attempting to amend the code of ethics that governs licensed attorneys in NC. These radicals within the North Carolina State Bar are advancing regulations that would make it unethical for North Carolina attorneys to take “sexual orientation or gender identity” into account when hiring or when chosing which clients to represent. The full text of the pending amendment is as follows:
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 limit a lawyer’s right to advocate on any issue.
After initial protests from attorneys, the Ethics Committee subsequently added a paragraph that these requirements “reflect the aspirational goals of the legal profession.” The NC Bar Ethics Committee approved the amendment. NC Bar leadership is presently accepting public comment on this amendment and is scheduled to vote on it later this year.
This amendment ought to be soundly rejected. It is based on a radical moral philosophy and it discriminates against those who adhere to Judeo-Christian views.
Some claim that this amendment is intended to protect homosexuals. While this amendment would accomplish that, it goes far beyond that objective. By extending the ethical guideline to “sexual orientation,” the authors draw a circle of protection well beyond homosexuality to include all forms of sexual orientation, which includes pedophilia, polygamy, bestiality, sadomasochism, necrophilia and every other form of sexual deviancy. If this amendment was intended to protect only homosexuals, the amendment is incompetently drafted. Since this draft was promulgated by a committee of intelligent and experienced attorneys, one can presume these few attorneys intend the Bar to impose radical social philosophy regarding human sexuality on all practicing attorneys in North Carolina.
To make sure the point is not missed regarding the scope of this amendment, the authors of the amendment tacked on “gender identity.” “Gender identity” involves a behavioral and philosophical system, distinct from “sexual orientation” and from “gender” itself.
Gender identity (otherwise known as core gender identity) is the gender(s), or lack thereof, a person self-identifies as. It is not necessarily based on biological fact, either real or perceived, nor is it always based on sexual orientation. The gender identities one may identify as include male, female, both, somewhere in between (“third gender”), or neither.
Gender identity is most typically associated with transsexuals and is a recognized psychological disorder. See here. Transsexuals and cross-dressing involve issues of gender identification.
Gender identity is also part of the post-modern and critical legal theorists vocabulary where one’s gender, like assertions of truth, is portrayed as an arbitrary and subjective experiences at best, and often these theorists portray gender identification as a tool of subjugation and oppression. It is necessary to view gender identification as a means of oppression in order to justify ethical guidelines designed to prohibit discrimination based on divergent views of gender identity. Gender identity is anathema to the Biblical concept that God intentionally created men and woman unique from each other and that God chose each person’s gender.
This radical “ethics” amendment would compel members of the bar to neutrally view the sexual choices of those we hire and those we chose to represent. Similarly, NC attorneys could not refuse to associate, hire or represent based on someone’s philosophy of gender. This would certainly protect cross dressers, transsexuals and men who would prefer to use the ladies latrine in my office. Since members of the NC judiciary are licensed attorneys, its unclear what effect this regulatory requirement would have on rulings in NC involving sexual orientation and gender identity.
It’s also worth noting that there’s no exemption based on employer. Attorneys on staff for ministries are not exempted. I represent a number of national, Christian ministries in my private practice. These clients would not appreciate my bringing a cross-dresser or openly homosexual attorney into their Board meetings to provide counsel.
While some members of the NC State Bar leadership apparently have radical beliefs regarding human sexuality and gender, other’s to include myself do not. This amendment would label it unethical to discriminate with and for whom we use our professional talents, because of their sexual practices and beliefs regarding gender. While some may disagree with my Judeo-Christian beliefs regarding human sexuality, there is not a compelling justification for labeling such beliefs unethical. In fact, I do not believe there is any justification for imposing this such a radical moral view of human sexuality on any attorney. Ironically, many forms of “sexual orientation” that would fall within the scope of this “ethics” rules are still felonies in NC. This amendment would open the door to prosecuting attorneys if they adhere to their Judeo-Christian beliefs. It would also stigmatize those who reject radical views of human sexuality.
It’s unclear who or what motivates this effort. I am not aware of problems within the legal profession that these amendments would address, let alone that a majority of NC practitioners would agree should be addressed. These are highly political and disputed public policy issues. Instead of addressing practice of law concerns in NC, this appears to be a transparent attempt to obtain the credibility of a state bar organization to endorse one side in a disputed political and moral debate while suppressing the other side. The NC Bar should steer clear of this debate regarding human sexuality and gender identification and let it be handled in the legislature and courts of public opinion. The State Bar should not impose an ethical obligation to conform our law practices to align with one side on these contested issues.
UPDATE March 2011: See NC SCt Rejects Bar Leadership’s Ethics for Sex and Gender