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Trinity Western Law School faces B.C. Law Society vote today

09/26/2014 11:15 EDT | Updated 11/26/2014 05:59 EST
The governing members of the Law Society of B.C. will once again take a vote that could determine the future of a law school at Trinity Western University.

The board members, who are known as benchers, will vote on three possible options today.

The first is to respect the wishes of the majority of B.C. lawyers who voted this past spring to call on benchers to reverse their decision to accredit the faith-based law school.    

The second is to put the issue to another vote  — this one binding — to all the society's members.

The third is to wait for the courts to rule on TWU's legal challenge of decisions in Ontario and Nova Scotia to refuse to recognize future law school graduates.

That third option doesn't sit well with Victoria lawyer Michael Mulligan, who is leading the effort to have the accreditation reversed.

"It would be an opportunity for the benchers to avoid and delay making a decision. That's really what that amounts to."

Mulligan notes 77 per cent of lawyers voted against the bencher's original decision during the provincewide vote this spring.

He also notes those members will vote again in bencher elections next year.     

Controversial approvals

The B.C. government approved the creation of a private faith-based law school at the Fraser Valley's university last December.

In December, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada also gave Trinity Western University preliminary approval for its law school program and said it was up to provincial law societies to decide whether to recognize degrees from the school.

But the approval sparked outrage from gay and lesbian advocates because the Christian university has a policy against same-sex relationships.

The school's handbook says students must sign a covenant recognizing that sexual relations should be confined to marriage between a man and a woman.

Opponents of the program says that covenant essentially discriminates against LGBT people.

The university says the faith-based program will train lawyers to see the profession as a higher calling to serve their community and to volunteer with local, national, and global NGO’s that serve underdeveloped nations and the vulnerable.

It plans to accept 60 students to start in September 2016.

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