Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Haslam signs therapist protection bill.

Today Governor Haslam signed the bill that says no therapist or counselor must provide services to a client who has a lifestyle or engages in practices that conflict with the counselor's sincerely held principles. So, I guess this means that if you are a counselor who believes murder is wrong and a mafia hit man comes to you who is having guilt feeling about all the people he has killed and wants to be cured of his guilt so he can sleep well at night, that you can refuse him service and not be sued. Or, if you are not comfortable counseling a pedophile, or providing marriage counseling to a polygamist man and his three wives, or a mother and son in a incestuous relationship, or a women having her third abortion, or a gay couple, you can refuse to counsel them and not be in jeopardy of being sued.

I support the basic premise of this law.  I think counselors should be able to refuse service to those who have a lifestyle that the counselor finds abhorrent.  I do question however how often this law is really necessary. Assume a gay couple goes to a counselor and the counselor says, "I appreciate you seeking me out and I wish I could serve you, but I am a Christian and believe homosexuality is a sin and I don't think we would really be a good match; I really don't know that I could be objective enough to provide you with the service you seek, however if you absolutely insist I will serve you anyway, knowing I probably can't help you."  How many gay couples are going to demand this person be their counselor and take their money?  Probably none.

I don't fault Governor Haslam for signing the bill. He needs to use the veto sparingly.  However, I wonder if this bill is really necessary. Sort of like the bathroom bill, some things could  be worked out without passing a state law. Of course, I did not sit thorough the legislative hearings and hear the arguments, but this bill looks like a solution in search of a problem simply in order to make a point.

For more on this see Haslam signs bill giving therapists protections.

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