Tenn. Bill That Lets Counselors Deny Service To LGBT People Heads To Guv

In this Feb. 11, 2016 photo, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam listens to a question during an interview in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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The Tennessee state senate on Monday passed a bill that would let counselors reject clients who are gay based on their religious beliefs, sending the legislation to Gov. Bill Haslam (R).

Senators agreed to a change made by the state House in the bill’s language that would let therapists reject clients based on “sincerely held principles,” as opposed to “sincerely held religious beliefs,” according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

State Rep. Dan Howell (R) pushed the legislation in response to the American Counseling Association’s decision to change its ethics code, telling counselors not to refer potential clients “based solely on the counselor’s personally held values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.”

The American Counseling Association has condemned the Tennessee bill, calling it an “unwanted and unnecessary blow to the counseling profession and those who benefit from the services of a professional counselor.” In a March statement, the group warned that the Tennessee bill would “essentially permit discrimination” and “would have a deleterious effect on countless people who seek mental and physical health services.”

Last week, Haslam told reporters that he can “understand the reasoning” behind the bill, but said he would wait to make a determination on the final bill, according to The Tennessean.

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Notable Replies

  1. I can’t wait to hear what happens when the first instance of this happening involves a therapist who rejects a prospective patient because he’s straight. (Based on the sincerely held principle that straight people need less help. Or are less faithful about paying their therapist bills. Or…)

  2. Tennesse Therapist: “I am a principled racist. I will never serve a person of color.”
    GOP: All legal, you have freedom to do so. Don’t forget to check if the person is LGBT. That might matter to you as well.

  3. My god, is there really a need for this? Are there that many counselors in TN who are homophobic? Perhaps they should be the patients … instead of playing around with the heads of people in need. Seriously, if they really have a problem with LGBTQ people, they shouldn’t be in the medical profession. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

  4. Avatar for acm acm says:

    Once the diagnostic manuals stopped referring to homosexuality as a disorder, I think it was time for “principles” to sort themselves out. I would think most medical licensing organizations would view refusing to treat gays as a disbarrable event!

  5. Honestly, you really don’t need to put the ®’s after the names when it comes to who’s moving this kind of legislation, we all get it by now.

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