The wave of LGBT discrimination laws parading under the banner of “religious freedom” continues unabated through the South. The latest state to jump on board is Tennessee, whose legislature just passed a law allowing counselors and therapists to decline services on the basis of “sincerely held beliefs.”
Pro-LGBT associations are already speaking out against the legislation. The Tennessee Equality Project penned a message that urges Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to veto the bill, which “puts the focus on the desires of counselors rather than on the needs of clients, damaging the counseling profession and putting clients at risk.”
At first glance, the bill is narrower in scope than Mississippi’s recently passed law allowing almost all businesses to decline services to LGBT patrons, for Tennessee’s law only applies to counselors and therapists. However, the bill is broader in the type of discrimination it allows. Where other bills have explicitly named the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman as a reason to deny services, the Tennessee bill only says that counselors must have “sincerely held beliefs,” religious or otherwise.
In theory, this could lead to discrimination against any number of groups (even though given the recent trend of GOP lawmakers, we could assume it was passed with the idea of denying services to LGBT clients on the basis of religious beliefs).
Tennessee lawmakers are currently considering a “bathroom bill” similar to the one passed in North Carolina that would force all citizens to use the bathroom of their birth gender. It’s a wonder that lawmakers can look at the firestorms created in states like North Carolina and think, “Let’s bring some of that our way.”
(Via Huffington Post)