Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) has launched a petition page
calling on Haslam to veto HB1840, which TEP Executive Director Chris Sanders says would have far-reaching impact beyond the LGBT community.
"They amended out the word 'religion' and it’s now 'sincerely held principles,' and that’s even broader," Sanders said. "Conceivably, sexism and racism are principles. At this point, it’s so wide open, it’s ridiculous, and it defeats the purpose of having a counseling code of ethics."
Sanders said TEP believes the LGBT community was the primary target for the bill.
"LGBT isn’t spelled out at all. If they did that, they know it would be ruled unconstitutional. But we’re the target," Sanders said.
The bill is one of several anti-LGBT bills brought before the General Assembly this past session.
"We didn’t introduce any bills that were positive [for the LGBT community] because we knew that this was going to be a crazy year. There have been bills on notice before committee every week of the session, at least one and often two or three," Sanders said. "We’ve never had a year like this before. It’s definitely backlash from [Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision]. They’re trying to build enclaves of discrimination wherever they can, realizing that the boundaries have shifted so much now."
Governor Bill Haslam has very little time left to veto or sign the bill that would allow counselors to turn away clients based on their "sincerely held principles."