Surprise. The Legislative Council
delayed action today on a new rule by the board that regulates counselors to give psychiatric counselors a "conscience" opt-out for treating people with whom they have philosophical disagreements.
The rule has been described as a compromise of an overtly anti-gay rule passed in Tennessee. It's another in a string of "conscience" or religious-pretext obstacles being thrown up — particularly in Southern states — to allow discrimination against LGBT people.
An AP account quotes
a legislator, Rep. Andy Davis
, as saying the review was deferred because a rule that wasn't expected to be controversial had become controversial.
It was always controversial. Just as the legislation that allows religion as a pretext for discrimination against gay people in employment, housing and public services was controversial. But that didn't stop the Republican-dominated legislature from approving it or the Republican governor from signing it.
As reported earlier:
Rita Sklar, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said in an interview the proposed change to the code of ethics “essentially gives a license to discriminate in the name of religion, and I think that people may see it as a green light to go ahead and not take any patient that they object to for some reason.”
“I’m particularly worried about school counselors not wanting to talk to, say, a suicidal gay student having trouble with his sexual orientation,” she said. “That is a very serious problem. Kids commit suicide because they are struggling with their sexual orientation, and I would just hate to see any delay in the health care of a person in need.”
Though no elected Arkansas Republican has yet sent out words of sympathy to the LGBT community over the targeted slaughter in Orlando, maybe this is a tacit gesture: "Let's at least wait until everyone's buried before we pass another anti-gay measure."