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Tennessee's Batshit Crazy New Law 

There are stupid laws. There are blatantly unconstitutional laws. There are laws that cannot be effective because they run smack into fundamental principles that neutralize them. All of these were on display in one of the most astonishing pieces of misguided legislation in recent memory: the signing of a law in Tennessee that contains a clause stating that no licensed counselor or therapist must serve a client whose “goals, outcomes or behaviors” conflict with the counselor’s “sincerely held principles.”

I’m searching around for a more disgraceful, insensitive hateful piece of legislation and, even with the anti-LGBT laws enacted in places like Mississippi, North Carolina and Indiana, I cannot find one.

Those laws invite discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. This Tennessee law permits health care professionals, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists to violate a fundamental principle of their professions. No professional organization permits its members to deny service to anyone based on prejudicial, biased grounds.

So this law will result in one of two outcomes. One is that it will never be implemented because no health care provider will ever be so bigoted and calloused to turn away a client because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The other is that one just may — and the result could be horrific.

It’s not difficult to imagine the kind of situation that could emerge. A depressed patient with suicidal ideation goes into therapy. After the first few minutes it is revealed that the troubled individual is transgender. The therapist terminates the session claiming that she/he holds religious views that “conflict” with the patient’s gender identity. A happy therapeutic outcome here is not in the cards.

When a bigoted florist doesn’t want to do the floral arrangements for a gay wedding the only persons whose lives are compromised are the couple who must find another vendor and the florist whose business just took a (well-deserved) hit.

Those are bad enough but this Tennessee law has the potential to, literally, kill someone.

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