LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas lawmakers have given final approval to a rule allowing counselors to refer clients to another provider if they have a religious objection to treating them, a measure that critics say could deny mental health services to gay and lesbian people.
The Legislative Council's Rules and Regulations Subcommittee on Tuesday approved the rule change proposed by the state Board of Examiners in Counseling, which regulates 2,800 counselors and marriage and family therapists in the state.
The rule would allow counselors to refer a client over "ethical, moral or religious principles" but only after careful consideration and consultation. It also says counselors cannot abandon someone who seeks assistance. The rule change is opposed by the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the American Counseling Association.
Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.