Despicable bigotry: Legislators in Tennessee pass a bill allowing counselors to cite religious beliefs for refusing service to LGBT patients.
The Republican sponsored legislation would allow mental health professionals to reject LGBT patients based on “sincerely held principles.”
On Monday night the Tennessee Senate voted 25-to-6 to approve the legislation after the state House passed the bill last week. Both chambers are Republican-controlled.
The new law will permit mental health professionals to discriminate against LGBT patients without legal liability.
The legislation now goes to the desk of Governor Bill Haslam. If it is signed into law, Tennessee would be the only state to allow counselors to refuse to treat patients based on the sincerely held religious beliefs of the counselor.
The American Counseling Association has called the bill an “unprecedented attack” on the counseling profession, noting that if signed into law, the legislation would make Tennessee the only state in the union to allow counselors to turn away clients, something that is not allowed in the industry associations code of ethics.
The new anti-gay legislation is part of a growing backlash in the American South against the LGBT population. The backlash is being lead by Conservative Christians angry and frightened by the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that legalized same-sex marriage.
The new legislation in Tennessee will endanger lives, and is another attempt by mean-spirited Conservative Christians to stigmatize and demean the LGBT community. Perhaps most alarming is the message such legislation sends to LGBT youth.
Bottom line: The legislation allowing allow mental health professionals to reject LGBT patients based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” is immoral and wrong. Refusing to help another human being who is in pain and asking for help is beyond despicable – but the bigots will call it “Christian love.”