Thursday, April 28, 2016

Republican Fear And Loathing: The LGBT Edition - Part Three In A Never Ending Series

Finally, the great state of Tennessee has addressed what I can only imagine was it's most pressing issue to date! As of yesterday all Tennesseans can breathe a little easier now that the state has just made it legal for mental health professionals to discriminate against their gay, lesbian and transgendered patients if they violate the therapist’s “sincerely held principles,”. In other words - If you are gay your doctor can turn you away... And that rhymes so you know it's true!

Despite condemnation from LGBT advocacy groups and several medical organizations Republican Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill into law yesterday after the Senate approved the counseling bill 27-5 in February and the House did the same with a 68-22 vote April 6.

Gov. Bill Haslam signs law allowing therapists to turn away their LGBT patients

After signing the bill Governor Haslam claimed that...

"After considerable thought and discussion with counselors both for and against the bill, I have decided to sign Senate Bill 1556,"

As the Republican controlled state Senate and House sees it the measure rectifies a 2014 change in the American Counseling Association’s code of ethics that prevented discrimination against people in need of counseling services.

If you are wondering if much though was put into the bill before it was enacted... There was! 

Originally, the legislation had stated that counselors and therapists could turn away patients based on “sincerely held (i.e. - Religious) beliefs,” but the state House then broadened the phrasing to “sincerely held (i.e. - Religious) principles” 

See, very thoughtful!

Though the bill is clearly designed to discriminate solely against the LGBT community opponents of the bill rightly fear that the new wording could lead to other forms of discrimination, as the bill does not clearly define what legal grounds mental health professionals can or cannot use to restrict patients.

The ACLU of Tennessee condemned Haslam’s decision, describing it as “yet another attack on the LGBT community in the wake of marriage equality.” saying that...

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.

In addition to the ACLU of Tenn. the American Counseling Association, a professional group that called the measure a “hate bill” against gay and transgender people and noted that it violates the group’s code of ethics, which delineates that mental health professionals cannot refuse to serve patients based on “personally held values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.”

Tennessee is the first and only state with such a law.

If you are so inclined you can  urge Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to veto this discriminatory bill at...

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