We all knew that there would be push back after we won a huge victory with same-sex marriage in the US. First , states tried to defy the SCOTUS ruling by issuing their own, state-wide bills.
When that didn’t work, they set their sights on the rights of transgender people. We have seen the anti-LGBT, or more specifically, anti transgender bathroom bills coming thick and fast, especially from the southern states.
Sadly, there is another one to add to the growing list of anti-LGBT bills as Tennessee Bill Haslam has signed their anti-LGBT bill into law. This particular bill makes it legal for counselors and therapists to turn people away because of “sincerely held principles.”
Haslam made a statement yesterday, saying: “Although Senate Bill 1556 has received attention for its perceived focus, my job is to look at the actual substance of the legislation.”
Apparently, he made the decision to sign the bill after “considerable thought and discussion” with people for and against the law.
Also, Haslam said that two provisions were made to the bill which assuaged his concerns about clients not receiving proper care.
The first provision states that it “shall not apply to a counselor or therapist when an individual seeking or undergoing counseling is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others.”
The second is that a counselor or therapist wishing to turn away a client must coordinate a referral to another counselor or therapist willing to take on the patient.
Haslam continued: “The substance of this bill doesn’t address a group, issue or belief system. Rather, it allows counselors – just as we allow other professionals like doctors and lawyers – to refer a client to another counselor when the goals or behaviors would violate a sincerely held principle. I believe it is reasonable to allow these professionals to determine if and when an individual would be better served by another counselor better suited to meet his or her needs.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee has expressed disappointment at the bill being signed into law, and labeled the new law “troubling”.
Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennesse, had this to say: “This measure is rooted in the dangerous misconception that religion can be used as a free pass to discriminate. Allowing counselors to treat some potential clients differently from others based on their personal beliefs defies professional standards and could cause significant harm to vulnerable people.”
“This law is yet another attack on the LGBT community in the wake of marriage equality — but we will continue to fight until LGBT Tennesseans are treated fairly and equally in every part of their lives and in the greater community.”