The National LGBT Bar Association is a group made up of lawyers who identify as LGBTQ and are associated with the American Bar Association. They launched a “Commit to Inclusion” campaign that attempts to get attorneys to pledge not to offer pro-bono services for groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel.
The pledge that attorneys can sign reads:
We, the undersigned members of the legal community, wish to publicly object to the anti-LGBT legal groups which operate within the United States legal system, including groups operating as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and Liberty Counsel.
We commit to inclusion by ensuring that our personal pro bono and volunteer capacity and personal financial resources will not be used to support the work of ADF and Liberty Counsel.
The campaign was launched on July 24 and goes until September 27.
Both ADF and Liberty Counsel are dependent on local attorneys providing pro bono services. For instance, ADF has over 3200 attorneys they work with who have contributed over one million pro bono hours at an estimated worth of over 211 million dollars.
These lawyers can provide a defense for people like Jack Phillips and Baronelle Stutzman who have had to fight their state’s efforts to coerce them to violate their religious conscience. Considering the financial toll Christian-owned businesses can face not only from the state but also from organized boycotts of their businesses it’s unlikely many would be able to pay for their defense.
While it is unlikely the National LGBT Bar Association will persuade attorneys who are already working with ADF and Liberty Counsel to stop working with them. I am concerned about the impact campaigns like this could make on law students.
It’s remarkable that a group of attorneys would try to subvert the ability of people to mount a defense even if they disagree. There are no efforts from faith-based groups to attempt to limit LGBT persons’ access to legal representation pro-bono or otherwise. This campaign is shameful and it is discriminatory.
Also, why does the American Bar Association continue to associate with this group? This campaign goes directly against their stated mission and goals.
Their mission statement reads, “To serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.”
So the liberty of people of faith doesn’t matter?
Not only that under their stated goal to improve their profession they offer this objective: “Promote pro bono and public service by the legal profession.”
The National LGBT Bar Association’s campaign runs counter to that objective. The ABA also wants to rid the legal system of bias and promote diversity. Does that include prejudice against persons of faith? Shouldn’t this diversity also include persons of faith (there are no faith-based organizations affiliated with the ABA)?
In fact, this campaign runs counter to the ABA’s Lawyer’s Pledge of Professionalism in which reads, “I will work with the other participants in the legal system, including judges, opposing counsel and those whose practices are different from mine, to make our legal system more accessible and responsive.”
In it, they also pledge to be a protector of “individual rights.” I guess that no longer includes freedom of religion and the right to exercise one’s conscience.
Also, one has to wonder why companies like BMW and Walmart sponsor the National LGBT Bar Association’s annual conference when they are involved in such a discriminatory campaign. Do they approve of this effort to diminish access for Christians (and others) to a legal defense?