This was originally published on Liberal America on June 9, 2016.
Tennessee recently passed a law that allows mental health providers to turn away atheists, gay people, or any other “sinners” they don’t like. Your religious counselor can turn you away if your “results” conflict with their religious beliefs. If you want to tell your parents you’re atheist or if you want help dealing with a same-sex partner, you may be screwed.
The bill definitely goes against the American Counselor’s Association rules. The Association’s rules say that a therapist can’t turn away patients for:
“…age, culture, disability, ethnicity, race, religion/spirituality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital/partnership status, language preference, socioeconomic status, immigration status, or any basis proscribed by law.”
Two gay men in Tennessee have filed a lawsuit against the state government for violating their rights as gay people. Since the law was passed in April, people have said that the bill is discriminating against the gay community.
Bleu Copas and Caleb Laieski filed the lawsuit in Anderson County, Tennessee, claiming that the law violates the Tennessee Constitution and the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, both of which guarantee equal protection for everyone under the law. The lawsuit said, in part:
“LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) persons were the target of the statute. They are singled out for discriminatory treatment. There is no other group which could conceivably be the target of the statute.”
Since the gay marriage ruling came down last June, Republicans everywhere have been trying to take other rights away from the LGBT-community. There have been all kinds of “religious freedom” cases all over the country. Florists, bakers, photographers, and others have been forced to provide services to gay people after refusing services.
States are passing laws to allow people to discriminate based on “religious freedom.” They were passed to keep conservatives from having to provide services to gay people. The President of the Family Research Council project said that allowing gay marriage forces people to go against their beliefs. These conservatives need to stop trying to take away rights from the LGBT community. There are lots of people in Tennessee who are probably having trouble getting help because of this bigoted law.