Tennessee's Republican governor Bill Haslam (pictured) today signed House Bill 1840 into law, which allows licensed counselors to turn away LGBT people suffering from mental health issues.
Haslam could not be persuaded to veto HB 1840, even though the legislation has been roundly condemned by health care groups and celebrities, including the American Counseling Association, GLAAD, and pansexual pop star Miley Cyrus.
“Denying anyone vital mental health services simply because they’re LGBT isn’t just outrageous, it’s outright dangerous,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “What’s clear, however, is that legislative attacks that target LGBT people are bad for business. Sadly, the bedrock of Tennessee’s economy — the record companies of Nashville — remained silent throughout the fight to pass this discriminatory law. It's time that they join the growing chorus of Americans demanding an end to discrimination.”
The legislation is expected make it especially difficult for LGBT people in rural areas of Tennessee to obtain mental health services.
The ACA notes that HB 1840 could jeopardize federal health care funding for Tennessee, since it conflicts with a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that says states lack the authority to deny health care to patients based on religion, race, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics.