Spiritual couples counseling is now legal in Arizona.
In February 2018, the state’s attorney general approved the use of licensed spiritual couples counselors in order to “ensure a quality of life for those experiencing the effects of addiction and other mental illnesses.”
That same month, Arizona passed a law to create a “spiritual family” licensing program, which will allow people to seek a license if they have lived together for at least one year.
A license can be granted for a period of up to two years and is a prerequisite for obtaining a license as a marriage counselor or as a licensed religious leader.
While the law is designed to allow couples to live together in a religious home, it does not require a marriage license to practice a specific religion.
The state’s new religious counselor license law will only apply to couples who are married, have a civil union and are married to someone of the same religion.
It also does not allow for same-sex couples to practice their religion, as long as they have not been married for more than six months.
According to the Arizona Republic, the new law has been “taken up by religious leaders and faith-based organizations, including the Arizona Council for Spiritual and Religious Life, the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the United Church of Christ and other faith leaders.”
The bill also includes language prohibiting licensed religious leaders from engaging in same-gender marriages, a decision that is likely to raise legal concerns.
“The legislation is not a step forward for any of us who are practicing in the same way, and that’s why I think it is important to note that it does allow people who are living together to be married, but not to have the license to marry someone of a different religion,” said Sharon DeLaurentis, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.
“So this legislation, for example, allows for people to be licensed to marry a person of the other faith and to engage in same sex marriage, but it does nothing to protect them from the consequences of their relationship.”
The Arizona Republic reported that the law would not affect licensed marriage counselors.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said, “We do not comment on pending litigation.”
According to Arizona’s state senator, Mark Hatfield, the bill “will allow for a more peaceful environment for people living together, as it will allow them to be more open to spiritual guidance, which is the best way to live.”
Hatfield added that he “will continue to support the state and its efforts to protect the rights of all Arizonans, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
According a report from the Arizona Department of Education, a majority of state schools require the use and support of licensed marriage counseling services.