Bill that would allow counselors to turn away LGBT patients heads to desk of Tennessee Gov

With its passage in the Senate, a bill that would allow therapists and counselors to legally refuse patients by citing “sincerely held principles” has successfully been passed by both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly. It now heads to the desk of Governor Bill Haslan, who has not yet said whether he will sign the legislation into law.

The bill, which is opposed by the American Counseling Association, would be the first in the nation to allow individuals to refuse service on the basis of “sincerely held principles.”  There is worry that such broad language would open the door to discrimination not just against members of the LGBT community, but also effectively legalize discrimination on the basis of gender or race.  Democratic State Senator Jeff Yarbro said the bill was already giving Tennessee a “black eye.”

The legislation has been condemned by a number of country music entertainers, and Viacom, the owner of CMT, has gone on the record in opposition.  If signed into law, the bill would make Tennessee the first state in the U.S. to allow therapists to refuse to treat patients “out of hand.”

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