Arizona Attorneys Respond to Bar Association

Espresso Pundit has posted the letter signed by prominent Arizona attorneys who are expressing concern over the Arizona Bar Association’s revision of the oath for new attorneys. The Bar will now requiring new attorneys to  abide by the following oath:

I will not permit considerations of gender, race, religion, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or social standing to influence my duty of care.

Attorneys who signed the seven-page letter summarized their concern and objections with this statement:

For the reasons expressed herein, we believe that the proposed provision is unnecessary, exceedingly ambiguous, and unconstitutional. We are concerned most particularly that the proposed provision’s vagueness violates due-process and free-speech guarantees and that its application infringes First Amendment rights by compelling conduct and expression in conflict with an attorney’s philosophical or religious beliefs as well as his other professional responsibilities.

Now that “sexual orientation” has been inserted, we have to wonder how long it will take before other behaviors such as “dietary orientation” or “hygenic orientation” are included.


  1. Sexual orientation is considered to be a protected class insomuch as it is seen as an immutable characteristic. There currently is, and historically has been a good amount of controversy over whether sexual orientation is a choice or is in some way intrinsic to the individual. Given that people identify with it as though it’s an immutable characteristic, rather than treating it as a personal choice, I think the debate might as well be moot.

    Unless anyone advances the argument that “dietary orientation” and “hygienic orientation” are immutable characteristics as well, we should consider ourselves free to discriminate on such grounds, both for now and the foreseeable future.

    I wonder if this foreshadows a challenge to the current legal treatment of sexual orientation as a class not protected under the 14th Amendment.

  2. I would vehemently challenge the point that sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic.

    If one were to make the assertion that homosexuality was genetically based, they must consider the reality that any homosexual gene would be “bred out” of propagation over time because homosexuals do not reproduce (and the likelihood that there is a carrier of any such gene is extremely rare).

    Let’s also not forget that homosexual behavior has been successfully treated using reparative therapy. Many former homosexuals now attest to normal heterosexual lives.

  3. Well, the genetic argument isn’t the only argument for sexual preference being immutable – preference could be formed culturally or developmentally and still be for all purposes an immutable characteristic.

    I also don’t know quite what to make of the reparative therapy argument. I’ve got no doubt that some people of any sexual orientation could be convinced or induced (willingly) to change their preference. I don’t know how it would be possible to demonstrate that the effect of switching from homosexuality to heterosexuality is “reparative” while the opposite is injurious.

  4. I am not sure whether sexual orientation is genetic or not and I think we make a mistake when we talk about sexuality as simply being two poles – gay or straight. However, I am sure that Sonarc’s statement is flawed in multiple ways.

    1. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of genetics to claim that the trait would be “bred out.” First of all, this ignores recessive genetic traits and it also ignore the fact that people who we would term gay are still able to have children and since in fact only recently being openly gay was not accepted at all, one can only imagine the number of gays and lesbians who have still parented children because of social norms. If we also consider that sexuality is not a binary trait but a continuum it makes this argument even more invalid.

    2. The idea, as Carson also points out, that immutable traits are only genetic is of course false. Many things we would call immutable have to do with the complex interplay of genetics, environment and biochemistry which we are only beginning to understand.

    3. Reparative therapy is a fraud. First of all, people have been claiming to be able to “cure” homosexuality for well over 100 years through methods as diverse as castration, lobotomies, electroshock, hormone injections and hysterectomies. Needless to say they have all been a disaster.

    The recent strain of reparative therapy is likewise a total failure. The only scientific study to look at the results found that 88% of people had no sustained change in their sexual *behavior* while only 3% did. The other 9 percent simply remained celibate.

    Even for those few who are “cured” they only change behavior, not their attraction to the same sex. They are sentenced to a life of pretending they are someone who they are not. I would not wish that on anybody.

    4. Finally, whether sexuality is mutable or immutable should be ultimately beside the point. We offer protections against discrimination based on peoples’ religious beliefs which are of course not genetic and we certainly have quite a long history of people converting from one religion to another so we know it is quite mutable (although in some cases when the conversions have been forced we have the same problem as with “reparative therapy”). However, we recognize that one’s belief or non-belief in a religion is such a personal and consequential aspect of who we are that to suggest that we should allow discrimination on religious grounds is a total affront to human freedom. I would argue that our personal sexuality is on the same order in terms of something that can only be governed by our own feelings and consciences.

  5. Sonarc Puked the following:

    “…I would vehemently challenge the point that sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic… reality that any homosexual gene would be “bred out” of propagation over time because homosexuals do not reproduce… homosexual behavior has been successfully treated using reparative therapy.”

    [Citation Needed]


  6. They are prohibited from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation already by the Arizona courts (according to rules of professional conduct promulgated by the Arizona court system;
    So, this change in oath will not actually change anything legally.

    But then again when has religious right been interested in truth?

  7. Veritas Vincit says

    What? I can’t deny legal services to someone who’s lifestyle I disagree with??? I wish the GLBT community would self-segregate and stop ramming and cramming their agenda on the rest of us!

    and some of us are old enough and were raised in SF to remember when “born that way” was verboten – it was a “lifestyle choice”. So? what is it and why should I care?

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