Friday, May 27, 2016


Don't individuals
Have rights, too?


FIRST IT WAS FLORISTS, then bakeries, now mental health practitioners and people who think they should have privacy in public restrooms.

Proprietors must sell to everyone who walks through their doors, even if the potential customer violates the proprietor's strongly held beliefs and even if a competitor's business is just across the street.

Now, in Tennessee, the ACLU and LGBT? communities are up in arms because the state has a new law allowing mental health practitioners reject patients they feel would violate “sincerely held principles.”

IT PAYS TO read the comics - that's my excuse, anyway. Had I missed my morning "funnies fix" I would not have known about Tennessee's new law.

The law, reports National Public Radio (NPR) under the headline Tennessee Enacts Law Letting Therapists Refuse Patients On Religious Grounds allows mental health counselors and therapists to refuse to treat patients based on religious objections or personal beliefs.

The NPR report continues Critics of the law say it could result in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The NPR account was one of several. Most eventually got around to stating that Gov. Bill Haslam said there are two key provisions of this legislation that addressed concerns I had about clients not receiving care. First, the bill clearly states that it ‘shall not apply to a counselor or therapist when an individual seeking or undergoing counseling is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others.’ Secondly, the bill requires that any counselor or therapist who feels they cannot serve a client due to the counselor’s sincerely held principles must coordinate a referral of the client to another counselor or therapist who will provide the counseling or therapy. (Emphasis mine.)

The Huffington Post had the most inflammatory headline: Tennessee Passes Anti-LGBT Counseling Bill

Tennessee legislators on Monday passed a bill that could jeopardize access to mental health treatment for LGBT individuals, part of a string of recent anti-LGBT legislation in the South.

The GOP-sponsored bill, which now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam (R), allows therapists and counselors to reject patients they feel would violate “sincerely held principles.”

The blog failed to mention if any Democrats voted in favor of the bill; in fact, the word "Democrat" never appeared in the blurb.

Moreover, the bill is a general protection. It would allow, for example, an atheist mental health worker to refer a fundamentalist Christian to a practitioner more in line with the patient's beliefs.

Less incendiary was the headline Tennessee governor signs 'therapist bill' into law and an article carried by CNN: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday signed a bill into law that allows therapists and counselors with "sincerely held principles" to reject gay, lesbian, transgender and other clients.

The Tennessean (nee' Nashville Tennessean), under a headline reading Haslam signs bill giving therapists protections reports that Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday signed into law a controversial bill that says no licensed counselor or therapist must serve a client whose "goals, outcomes or behaviors” conflict with the counselor’s “sincerely held principles” — a measure the American Counseling Association had denounced as a “hate bill” against gay and transgender people.

In a related article, the Tennessean headlines: Third group pulls out of Nashville due to counseling law

One of the articles noted that the law might be a problem in rural areas where the people have access only to a limited number of mental health practitioners. The question becomes: how many LGBT? people live in those rural areas? Likewise, how many mental health practitioners “sincerely held principles” would be violated by such people?

Most mental health practitioners I have encountered in both metro and rural communities are liberals. As the Tennessean noted, the American Counseling Association had denounced as a “hate bill” against gay and transgender people.. Perhaps the ACA leadership only read the Huffington Post headline; selective reading, a hallmark of people with an agenda.

I have no problem with anti-discrimination laws - albeit there should only be one: "No discrimination allowed, period" - but where is the anti-discrimination law that protects straight, white, males? Where is the anti-discrimination law that protects small businesses with nearby competition?

If I have the only business of its type in my community, then I would expect to cater to whomever crossed the threshold of the establishment. Restrooms for my business would be too small for two people (other than parent and small child), so the transgender-in-progress issue is not applicable.

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