‘We need the resources now, more than ever’: Advocate responds to Bishop criticizing LGBTQ+ law clinic


SPOKANE, Wash. — A face-off between religious tradition and helping those in need is underway in Spokane.

The Gonzaga University School of Law announced earlier this month that it will soon open a law clinic that is the first-of-its-kind at a Washington University. The Lincoln LGBTQ+ Rights Clinic is designed to advance the equal rights and dignity of people who identify as LGBTQ+ through education, programming, advocacy, research, and legal representation, according to Gonzaga University.

Staff will oversee second and third year law students as they offer free legal help to clients. GU said that could include assistance with updating government identification cards, family law issues, domestic violence concerns, and discrimination suits in housing, employment, and public services.

But last week, Spokane Bishop Thomas Daly said the clinic raised “serious concerns.”

A statement shared by the Catholic Diocese of Spokane said that “while the Catholic tradition does uphold the dignity of every human being, the LGBT Rights law clinic’s scope of practice could bring the GU Law School into conflict with the religious freedom of Christian individuals and organizations.”

OutSpokane Secretary Steven Herevia called the comments disappointing, but nothing new. He said the number of people who identify as part of this community is growing each year. Part of that proof is in the record-setting attendance of last year’s Pride Parade and Rainbow Festival, which welcomed tens of thousands of people, according to Herevia.

Herevia estimated that between 18 and 20 percent of Spokane’s population identifies along some part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Many of those people rely on assistance programs and will benefit from the new law clinic.

“We need the resources now, more than ever,” Herevia said. “There are a lot of folks asking a lot of questions and the more resources that we can have to meet people where they are with the questions that they have or the need for resources or the need for events, it’s all important.”

Herevia can still remember when he first heard the news that this specialty clinic was opening.

“This is the best way I can capture that moment, anything is possible,” Herevia.

Herevia held on to that mentality even in light of the comments by Bishop Daly. He hopes that religion won’t stand in the way of helping people access benefits promised to them by law.

“These pieces of legislation are already in place. It is our duty to uphold them,” Herevia said.

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