LGBT

Ridiculous Gay Marriage Lawsuit of the Day

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Just six months after an anti-gay marriage group withdrew its $5 million federal lawsuit against Massachusetts lawmakers, Stephen Dunne, a 30-year-old would-be lawyer from Boston, is suing the state, claiming that the "homosexual agenda" prevented him from passing the bar exam. The AP explains:

A man who failed the Massachusetts bar exam because he refused to answer a question about gay marriage has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the test violated his rights and that his religious beliefs were targeted.

Stephen Dunne, 30, of Boston, is seeking $9.75 million in the suit against the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He was denied a license to practice law in May after scoring 268.866 on the exam, just shy of the 270 passing grade.


In the suit, Dunne's called the question "morally repugnant and patently offensive," and said he refused to answer it because he believed it legitimized same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting, which is contrary to his moral beliefs.

Dunne claims the Massachusetts state government is "purposely-advancing Secular Humanism's homosexual agenda."

Whole story here.

For more info on "Secular Humanism's homosexual agenda," check out the always insightful Independent Gay Forum.

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  1. I agree! The Rule Against Perpetuities also discriminates against my religion, because I don’t believe in perpetuities.

    Oh well, they tell me that after taking the bar the fifth time, the sixth time is free.

  2. Does this mean that I should refuse to answer all the crim law and con law questions relating to drug laws on my upcoming bar exam because I find our drug laws to be “morally repugnant and patently offensive?”

  3. Dunne, in essence, didn’t like the outcome of his bar exam and sued to change it. Is there any doubt he’s qualified to be a lawyer?

  4. Abdul:

    Neither does the rule; that’s why it’s the rule against them. (Perhaps that was your problem?)

    Meanwhile, from the article:

    Dunne, who is representing himself in the case, refused to answer a question addressing the rights of two married lesbians, their children and their property, and claims in the suit that it cost him a passing score.

    Since that is exactly the sort of question he would have had to answer over and over again in law school (with around 20 other complications thrown in), how on earth did he even get admitted to take the exam?

  5. Does this mean that I should refuse to answer all the crim law and con law questions relating to drug laws on my upcoming bar exam because I find our drug laws to be “morally repugnant and patently offensive?”

    If Dunne wins his case, yes.

  6. So, logically, if I were an anarchist…

  7. Well, I’d have to see how the question was worded to be sure, but I’m going to side against this guy for now. If you don’t like how a question is worded, suck up, deal, and answer it anyway.

    Now, if the only allowed answers to the question involved endorsing homosexual marriage, then he might have a point.

  8. Hey, did Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson have to pass bar exams? Libertarians would let anyone practice law, if he or she could find the clients.

  9. crimethink, it’s a state bar exam–these aren’t warm and fuzzy questions. I’m sure in his mind simple acknowlegement of the law of the land in MA counts as “endorsement”

    if he wins I’m going to form a religion that doesn’t believe in negotiable instruments, taxes, or contracts, because those sections are a total bitch

  10. While crimethink is certainly right to say we’d need to say exactly what the question says, I would have to assume that any question on the bar exam would have to be asking what the law is and how it should be interpreted, not whether the law or the underlying act is right or wrong.

    I’d say his failure to see the difference should disqualify him as a lawyer anyway.

  11. Correct me if I don’t know much about how bar exams work, but what’s his argument for not having answered 1 of the other questions he got wrong correctly, enough to have allowed him to pass the exam?

  12. I wish I could’ve thought of the excuse when I took the bars in PA and FL. Both of them had drug questions on crim law and con law. If I had refused to answer it would’ve saved me some stress. (And lonely libertarian, you will see a drug question. There always is one. Easy crim law fact pattern.)

  13. Reinmoose | July 6, 2007, 3:02pm | #

    Correct me if I don’t know much about how bar exams work, but what’s his argument for not having answered 1 of the other questions he got wrong correctly, enough to have allowed him to pass the exam?

    Exactly the same thing I was wondering. If he failed to answer correctly on other questions, how does he know exactly which one caused him to fail?

  14. Oh, and I’m going to be the first one to comment that I find his argument that if he finds something to conflict with his personal beliefs he shouldn’t have to deal with it to be “patently offensive.” Didn’t this man ever go to college? Or did he go to a Christian school?

  15. moose – that was my question, too

    I missed Cum Laude by 0.01 GPA point, but I didn’t sue my Chemical Synthesis II professor for docking my grade because I identified Benzocaine, but didn’t know it was halogenated.

    Jeez. Maybe I should have. My life was destroyed and I do, after all, take religious exception to NMR spectra. Those fuckers are impossible to read, they’re obviously the devil’s work…

  16. Well, your first question was my question… those last questions, I hadn’t thought of.

    …. can I go home now?

  17. To answer questions about the Bar Exam…

    Not sure how Mass. works. To use the Florida bar as an example, there are 3 essay questions, a 100 question state multiple choice, and a 200 question multistate multiple choice (the latter is taken by test-takers in every state except I think Louisiana). Each section is worth a certain number of points. The points in each section are totalled up and then scaled, and then the total points for the three sections are added together. They have to be over a certain number to pass.

    Honestly, the two times I took the bar exam (once in Pennsylvania and once in Florida) I passed both pretty easily and could’ve skipped a question without damage, but lots of people are nearer to the line.

    He could’ve changed the fact pattern in his answer to a heterosexual couple and gotten plenty of points for that question if he got the law right. Hell, he could’ve put an ad hominem about gay marriage being wrong and THEN answered the question and gotten the points to pass.

  18. The real way you know this is a B.S. suit is the 9.75 million figure. If this were real, he’d seek an equitable remedy allowing him to be tested on an alternative question and be credited for his answer. Of course its possible he could fail to get those 11.134 points and he’d look like a real jackass. No wait, we’d be back in court on the grounds that the state bar deliberately set him a tough question. Poor little victim of injustice.

    Then again, if the court allowed that, every bar exam (and real estate exam, civil service test etc.) taker would want a similar mulligan question. As noted by others, there are any number of questions which touch morally sensitive areas.

    Still, I would like to know were he got 9.75m.

  19. Doesn’t he get extra credit for filing a frivolous lawsuit?

  20. Still, I would like to know were he got 9.75m.

    Presumably it’s related to the net present value of his future lawyer salary.

    Because, after all, he couldn’t be a lawyer in Rhode Island or be a business consultant in Massachusetts. No. His only possible futures are a lawyer of the bar in Massachusetts or a homeless man. The difference is $9.75 million.

  21. I am studying for the New York bar right now. The thing that is really stupid about this is that it was an essay question. In order to get two extra points, the following essay probably would have worked:

    “The issue is whether or not homosexuality should have rights to adopt children and marry. The Bible in both Old and New Testaments label homosexuality an abomination. These two women are homosexuals. Therefore, they should not be able to marry or adopt children, and, further, should be stoned to death.”

    I just wrote that in the format that bar examiners like. Something like that, even that short, probably would have bumped him up two points.

  22. I guess my second thought was more or less about how as a libertarian, if I want to change a system, I have to first go through the bullshit to become part of it. I’ve pretty much gotten used to accepting that if I plan on making a political statement against a system, I accept whatever result my actions or inactions create with respect to my chances of becoming a part of that system. This man could have answered the question anyway, gone home, had a stiff drink, and spent his career working to eliminate gay marriage laws in Massachusetts. Instead, he didn’t pass the bar and is now involved in some ridiculous law suit against the state in which he was initially trying to get the license to practice.

  23. Oh yes, despite his complaining about barely failing, it should be noted that the bar exam is rigidly timed so that nobody could fully answer all of the questions. By skipping over a question entirely, he got extra time to answer the other questions. Therefor, he probably got more points on the others than he would have if he had taken the time to answer all of them.

    Bottom line: you failed. Go practice in Wisconsin.

  24. Even if he could prove an injury, the damages should be limited to the cost of going through another bar review course.

  25. “””Now, if the only allowed answers to the question involved endorsing homosexual marriage, then he might have a point.”””

    Maybe. But the legal professions do not get to pick the laws they like. If the law allows gay marriage, I would expect his answer to reflect what the law is, not his opinion of it. His values are irrelelvent.

    After all, the bar exam is not about what he believes is right or wrong.

    If he doesn’t like the law in MA, he should move.

  26. thoreau | July 6, 2007, 3:24pm | #

    Doesn’t he get extra credit for filing a frivolous lawsuit?

    No. But if he does pass the exam some day, it will look good on his application to the firm of Dewey, Cheatem & Howe.

  27. “””In the suit, Dunne’s called the question “morally repugnant and patently offensive,” “””‘

    If you have a problem with morally repugnant and patently offensive, why be a lawyer? Isn’t that part of being one?

  28. If he doesn’t like the law in MA, he should move.

    Good idea. He’d probably have no problem with Sharia law – either the exam or the practice.

  29. I missed Cum Laude by 0.01 GPA point

    I just want to point out that my engineering school only measured GPAs to one significant digit past the decimal and so I received “highest honor” (none of that silly latin for us) despite being .0492 below the limit, because I rounded up to the minimum.

  30. TrickyVic: Excellently stated.

  31. Yep, TrickyVic wins the thread.

    Honorable mention to Aresen for:
    He’d probably have no problem with Sharia law – either the exam or the practice.

  32. I’m much happier not knowing my score on the bar exam. I’d be pissed if I found out I did really well, meaning that I spent a lot of time studying when I could have been playing golf or something. Anything above passing is simply wasted effort.

  33. I refuse to answer any questions regarding violent criminals in my bar exam as they implicitely acknowledge and ultimately legitimize crime, particularly violent crime. (think of the little children!!)

    Or I should have studied more and passed my freaking bar exam.

    This guy is starting his career right, becoming nationally famous as a lawyer who couldn’t pass the bar exam and used the forever present excuse of laying it on God.

    Just remember, religious right don’t hate homosexuals, God does, they’re simply the messengers.

  34. What!!! I won something!!! lol.

    As for myself, I’m getting tired of the “law is relative to one’s belief” people. Many of these people would beat you with the letter of the law if they got the chance.

  35. “if he finds something to conflict with his personal beliefs he shouldn’t have to deal with it to be “patently offensive.” Didn’t this man ever go to college?”

    Where do you think he learned that attitude?

  36. If only those gay studs weren’t so damn hot, I wouldn’t have been so distracted from my studies for the exam.

  37. Damn! What keeps happening to screw up my URL?

  38. Can I sue Playboy because I almost didn’t graduate high school?

  39. Good idea. He’d probably have no problem with Sharia law – either the exam or the practice.

    The trouble is it probably doesn’t mention JEEZ-us enough for Duanne’s tastes.

  40. Seitz,

    When I took the Florida bar 170 was passing. I got a 170.00. You can call me counselor. Of course when I moved to Nevada, the bar was considerably easier. Wasted my time studying for that one.

  41. robc I asked about that… I said, “Come on! One lousy hundredth of a point? Haven’t you heard of rounding up??!?”

    Bastages. Keepin’ a sistah down.

  42. Only in a legal exam would you calculate the score to 268.866.

    Dunne’s the kind of person that gives lawyers a bad name.

  43. . . . “because I identified Benzocaine, but didn’t know it was halogenated.”

    More evidence of the stealth nature of the creeping halogenate agenda.

  44. The Bar should just rephrase the question:

    Two extremely rich married lesbians are willing pay an initial $250,000 upfront to a lawyer to address their rights, their children and their property

  45. Abdul’s argument is interesting, but ultimately unpersuasive. If he does not believe in perpetuities, then the Rule Against Perpetuities would SUPPORT his beliefs, not violate them.

  46. “Stephen, I don’t use the word ‘hero’ very often, but you are the greatest hero in American history.”

  47. Dunne claims the Massachusetts state government is “purposely-advancing Secular Humanism’s homosexual agenda.”

    At least that’s what he tells his friend Trevor who he mets for weekends at his place down in Fire Island.

  48. Edit: …down on Fire Island.

  49. He isn’t going to win this, he has won it by making this point. How did he manage to score just the right score to make the one question pivotal? I don’t believe in coincidence. I think he cheated, unless he is some kind of genius.

  50. Now, now, all of you shouldn’t judge until you see the question. Through my extensive contacts in the MA bar, I happened to obtain a copy of it:

    “Heather has two mommies. Unfortunately, they decide to get divorced because Gaia’s Wiccan gathering day clashed with Dinah’s Satanic goat sacrifice night. Their assets at the time of divorce total $2.6 million. How much should each partner recieve after the mandatory $350,000 donation to Planned Parenthood, $260,000 to GLAAD, and $42,000 for woodshop private tutoring for Heather?”

  51. Whoever would hire, or want to employ, this pathetic individual as their attorney?

  52. Genius? Hardly. Nobody who has been through law school will have any sympathy for a guy who refused to answer a question because he finds to topic morally objectionable. You get a question, you answer it. You may not like the right answer, you may not like the people. Screwing up your bar exam because you didn’t want to deal with a couple of fictitious lesbians is childish. My quess is the short version of the final opinion on the matter will be “Gay marriage is a legitimate legal topic in this state, and even if it wasn’t, we aren’t going to waste the courts time vetting the local bar exam questions for moral fiber. You should have sucked it up and answered the question. GTFO.”

  53. Sounds like a Dondero move to me…

  54. “Heather has two mommies. Unfortunately, they decide to get divorced because Gaia’s Wiccan gathering day clashed with Dinah’s Satanic goat sacrifice night. Their assets at the time of divorce total $2.6 million. How much should each partner receive after the mandatory $350,000 donation to Planned Parenthood, $260,000 to GLAAD, and $42,000 for woodshop private tutoring for Heather?”

    This is supposed to piss off conservatives? Dunne would have had a better case as a lesbian.

  55. More evidence of the stealth nature of the creeping halogenate agenda.

    I know, right? Somewhere around here I’ve got a sign that says “God Hates Bromine” but those Westboro nuts wouldn’t let me stand with them. Troglodytes, all.

  56. this butt-wipe had to be home schooled!

  57. Gosh it is almost as if people who want to be lawyers have to read the law as written and not the way their moral opinions say it should be.

    HORROR!

  58. Hey, did Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson have to pass bar exams? Libertarians would let anyone practice law, if he or she could find the clients.

    true enough…but still there would be a bar and you would be an idiot for hiring someone who had not passed the exam.

  59. 30-year-old would-be lawyer from Boston, is suing the state, claiming that the “homosexual agenda” prevented him from passing the bar exam.

    You call this suit ridiculous? Ha! I’ll bet this man has a long, propserous and high-profile career ahead of him, probably working for the Center for “Science” in the “Public Interest” or some such organization.

  60. How does he explain all the other questions he missed on the bar exam? It’s not like he only missed the one question (and failed as a result). Seems he missed a helluva lot of questions, including the gay one. Did he intentionally miss all the other questions, too?

  61. Don’t you get it? Those fundamentalists who are wound most tightly about non-reproductive sex fret about “secular humanism”, and claim to be victimized or put upon by the spread of the “secular humanist agenda” in order to cast themselves as modern-day martyrs for Christianism. Many of them regard being sneered at or ridiculed in commentary like the instant article as “persecution”, which of course is a testament to their virtue and a harbinger of eternal reward.

    I am speculating here, but I would not be surprised if Stephen Dunne regards himself as a twenty-first century successor of the New Testament character Stephen, who was stoned to death for speaking truth to the High Priest, or at least a latter-day William Jennings Bryan. In other words, a rock star among fundies.

    Mr. Dunne will likely retake the bar exam (perhaps in a state other than Massachusetts)and go to work for some fundie legal foundation or for the Bush [in]Justice Department.

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