These people sound like they'd make the greatest counselors ever:
Jim Cunningham, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, says psychologists, therapists and other licensed counselors should be able to refuse to treat or refer clients because of religious or moral convictions. But, he says, the proposed addition of sexual orientation to anti-discrimination rules makes it unclear whether that's allowed.
"Our concern had to do with services that we would not be able to provide because they would promote or enhance or validate conduct that is contrary to our religious beliefs," Cunningham said.
"To make a referral would be cooperation ... so that would be problematic as well."
In fact, driving along the highway and not crashing into any car with one of those rainbow stickers on it is cooperation with the homosexual lifestyle, so that would be problematic as well.
Now, on one level, while this is a terrible precedent to be setting to carve out cases when it's OK to discriminate (here: if you blame Jesus for your prejudice, it's fine), on some level it's probably best for a mental health professional who can't even stand to write a referral for a gay person to be allowed to not treat them. Sure, I think that they shouldn't be allowed to practice, but considering the amount of damage the mental health profession has caused gay people over the last few centuries, maybe there should be a red flag when it comes to the people who'll use that position of power and expertise to hurt another person.
But what makes this article interesting isn't that it's just another religious exemption to anti-discrimination policy being carved out that will effectively make the anti-discrimination policy moot (who'll be around to prevent abuse of this policy? most homophobes would ascribe their narrow-mindedness to religion, but what evidence could they provide to show that it really is religion's fault?), but the fact that the rightwing here is so thoroughly unsatisfied with any reasonable compromise.
Because what they're debating isn't whether counselors should have to treat people they don't like - they've already said no to that - but whether they should even have to refer them to anyone else afterwards. Does a restaurant that doesn't want the homosexuals to touch anything lest they need to sanitize the establishment afterwards even have to say: "There's a nice place for you people down the street, just keep that homo stuff off my property"? That's the debate.
So someone proposed a compromised: "whole-patient referral," which means that a referring counselor gets to ignore someone's sexuality while referring them to someone else. In other words, it means the opposite of what its name implies.
[Nebraska's top medical officer, Dr. Joann] Schaefer disagrees. "They can't dump you as a patient," she said. "They have to put you in the hands of someone that can help you."
She offers this example: A patient seeks help for depression, then later reveals he or she is gay and wants counseling for a same-sex relationship. A counselor with a moral or religious conviction against gays or same-sex relationships could refer the patient elsewhere for treatment of depression, without having to provide a referral for the relationship counseling.
The distinction appeases the Nebraska Catholic Conference.
Now normally that's a detail I won't comment on and I'll just wait for the people who work in this field to pick it up in the comments, and since I'm not a mental health professional I'm sure some people could say, "Yeah, that's a great distinction. Someone who's in a same-sex relationship they feel the need to discuss with their counselor and just recently came out can totally keep those issues separate from chronic depression, go Joann Schaefer," but somehow I doubt it. Which is probably why:
The Board of Psychology has voted at least five times to reject Schaefer's compromise language. They've sent their own changes _ which require treatment or an appropriate referral _ on to the Board of Health, which will take them up on Monday.
The other two boards haven't decided yet how to proceed.
So there's hope still that the board will come up with a more reasonable compromise.
But as these sorts of exemptions to anti-discrimination rules keep on being made throughout the country, it's important to remember that the goal isn't to allow Christian professionals to deny services with LGBT people, but to prevent them from having any sort of interaction with us at all. It's not about maintaining the integrity of their work, but to completely indulge their immaturity and allow them to run shrieking "Gays! Ewwwww! Gross!"
And, no matter what, there is no compromise with these folks. In every field, their goal, no matter what they say, is to eliminate us. I'm sure Nebraska counselors weren't having this conversation when the required reaction to a patient coming out was referring them to reparative therapy.