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Law student challenges gay marriage exam question

PinkNews Staff Writer July 9, 2007
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A man who flunked Massachusetts’ bar exam is claiming in federal court that he failed the test because he refused to answer a question related to gay marriage.

According to the Associated Press, a question came up concerning the rights of two married lesbians, their children and their property.

Stephen Dunne says the question itself was “morally repugnant,” because it legitimises same-sex marriage and parenting, which he opposes.

Massachusetts legalised same-sex marriage in 2003.

Mr Dunne is asking a federal court to back his argument that the test violates his rights and targets his religious beliefs.

The suit also challenges the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

Mr Dunne is seeking $9.75 million (£4.86m) in damages and wants a jury to prohibit the Board of Bar Examiners from considering the question in his passage of the exam and to order it removed from all future exams.

“There’s a different forum for that contemporary issue to be discussed, and it’s inappropriate to be on a professional licensing examination,” Mr Dunne told the Boston Herald.

“You don’t see questions about partial-birth abortion or abortion on there.”

Mr Dunne scored a 268.866 on the bar exam, just missing a passing grade of 270.

While officials with the state bar and the court had no comment, Boston attorney Tom Dacey told the Herald that he doesn’t believe the case will go very far.

“Gay marriage is now part of the state’s domestic relation laws, and that’s one subject on which the Board of Bar Examiners traditionally tests applicants,” Mr Dacey said.

“Lawyers have to answer questions about legal principles they disagree with all the time, and that doesn’t mean we’re endorsing them,” Mr Dacey, a director of Goulston Storrs litigation group, explained.

“You might be somebody who is morally opposed to divorce, but have to interpret the divorce laws of the commonwealth to answer a question about who property is passed to.”

© 2007.; All Rights Reserved.

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