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.”