Lawyers in British Columbia have effectively overturned the Law Society of B.C.'s decision to approve a proposed law school at Trinity Western University.
In a binding referendum vote, 74 per cent of lawyers (5,951 out of 8,039) who mailed in ballots voted to direct the law society's board of directors – known as benchers – to declare that the faith-based university's proposed law school would not be an approved faculty of law for the purpose of the law society's admissions program.
There are 13,530 practising, non-practising and retired lawyers in B.C., meaning about 59 per cent of those entitled to vote did so.
According to society rules, the referendum is binding: At least one-third of all members voted and two-thirds of those who voted did so in favour of the resolution.
After the mail-in ballots were counted and results announced on Thursday, lawyer barbara findlay declared it "a proud day to be a lawyer."
At issue is a line in the evangelical Christian university's community covenant that requires all students, administrators and faculty to abstain from "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."
Critics say it is inherently discriminatory against the LGBTQ community while supporters invoke the freedom of religion.
The school has been the subject of law society votes across the country, two court challenges and several votes in B.C. alone.
The benchers will discuss the referendum results at a meeting on Friday.