If you’ll remember, the thing the Michigan Attorney General’s office is best known for is Andrew Shirvell, the assistant AG who embarked on a completely creepy stalking campaign against a gay student at the University of Michigan, claiming that the student’s involvement in campus government was somehow a “family values” issue. Shirvell, as so many gay-obsessed Religious Right figures so often do, came off as a stalker with a prurient interest in this young gay man.
Now the Michigan Attorney General’s office is failing again, in deciding to back Julea Ward, the former counseling student from Eastern Michigan University who wanted an exception to be made in counseling standards, just for her, so that she could give poor, second-rate, bigoted care to gay patients:
Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a brief Friday on behalf of Julea Ward, who is appealing a federal district court’s ruling on behalf of the university. Ward was dismissed from a graduate counseling program after she refused to provide counseling to a homosexual who wanted help with relationship issues, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The university says Ward failed to abide by the guidelines and ethical rules of the American Counseling Association. In legal papers, it suggests Ward, who wanted to be a school counselor, would have to set aside her own belief that homosexuality is morally wrong.
Schuette, in his brief, said EMU did not follow its own written standards in Ward’s case. A spokesman, John Sellek, said the attorney general also believes the university violated her constitutional right to religious freedom.
Note that they’re not saying that she has to “change” her beliefs. She merely has to learn to be a professional if she wants to be considered qualified in that field. If an oncologist personally believes that prayer has healing powers, but is nonetheless willing to provide exemplary medical care to cancer patients, then no one will care about the physician’s belief in prayer. If instead the physician advocates a course of prayer over a regimen of chemotherapy, then there will be a problem!
Likewise, if Julea Ward is willing to treat all her patients as human, and is able to refrain from sharing her (personal, unprovable) belief that homosexuality is immoral, she could make a fine counselor. But if she and other fundamentalists like her are not willing to live up to the standards and practices of their chosen fields because of their religious beliefs, they should perhaps choose other fields where reality won’t get in the way of their religious faith.