jessicasteiner: (Default)
Today I received one of those emails with a petition to sign. Sometimes I sign them, sometimes I don't. This one was one of the few that got me digging a bit deeper, and say something.

Apparently Trinity Western University has petitioned to have an accredited law school. TWU is a Christian university in British Columbia, the same province where I practice law.

They also have a discriminatory anti-homosexual policy. They have said that gay students will not be welcome at their law school, and that those who are homosexuals who want to go to law school will simply have to go somewhere else. I find this appalling.

I certainly hope that the Law Society of British Columbia refuses the accreditation. A school that violates the Charter - which actually does apply to Canadian universities, if I'm remembering my first year Constitutional law class correctly - should not be tasked with teaching that Charter to the next generation of lawyers.

One of the things that I feel strongly is that the legal profession is there to push the envelope. We not only uphold the law, but justice. We should be better than the average population at rising above stereotypes and prejudice. We shouldn't perpetuate racism, sexism, or homophobia in the way our laws are interpreted and applied. We should fight against such things, and when a law is being applied in a discriminatory way, we should recognize that, and fight against it.

Lawyers can be Christians - many of my colleagues are, and they are ones that I have deep respect for. I don't have an issue with TWU being a Christian university. What I do have a problem with, is hate. And a university that operates in violation of our most fundamental constitutional principles of equality should not teach law.

The petition is here. I don't know that it'll help, but who knows?
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
I had a rather awkward conversation with a taxi driver today.

I came out as a lesbian when I was in highschool. I got together with my wife more than 14 years ago, while I was in university. I don't really care if that dates me. From the moment I decided to come out of the closet, I committed to be open and honest about my sexuality, and to answer any question I was asked. I figured that education would be the only way that I could work towards avoiding prejudice.

Over the years, it's worked pretty well. My parents were already pretty accepting of homosexuals before I came out, and quickly accepted me for who I am, though there were some pretty personal questions before I got there, and my mother spent some time very worried about my future.

I've never had a problem at any job, or in my current profession. I find that being honest and simply talking about my wife the same way I would talk about my husband if I were straight, without making a big deal about it, forces my casual acquaintances into a social position of not making a big deal out of it, as well. I've had coworkers come to me later and thank me for my attitude, saying that it made it easier for them to work through it and come to see me being with a woman as normal, because I treated it as normal.

Just as planned.

In November of last year we purchased a house and moved into a more rural town than any we had lived in before. We've met many of our neighbours, some of whom are also LGBT. It's a wonderful neighbourhood and we really love living here. Nevertheless, while it hasn't changed our behaviour, but compared to Vancouver, Chilliwack is white-washed and conservative, though they're only an hour's drive apart.

Today I had occasion to take a taxi home from the courthouse, and my driver and I got to talking. I mentioned my wife, and the driver hastened to mention that her roommate was trans* and going to be going through sexual reassignment surgery, and furthermore that while "some people" might be taken aback by me mentioning that I had a wife, she didn't have a problem with it. "Oh good," I said.

Then she asked me if she could ask a personal question. She asked me "How do you know which one of you is the husband, and which one is the wife?"

"We're both the wife," I said. "Oh," she said. "That makes sense."

I didn't know people really wondered about that.

I feel good that I had the opportunity to talk to that woman and answer her question. I hope that it made some small difference for herself in accepting and overcoming those last vestiges of homophobia.

If you have any similar stories, I'd love to hear them.

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Jessica Steiner

February 2016

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