Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today signed a bill allowing medical professionals to refuse mental health services to LGBT patients. This follows weeks of outreach and statements urging him to veto by GLAAD, LGBT organizations, business leaders, and leaders of the country music industry.
“Denying anyone vital mental health services simply because they’re LGBT isn’t just outrageous, it’s outright dangerous,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “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.”
GLAAD was in Nashville earlier this month with the Tennessee Equality Project, actor and musician Chris Carmack, singer-songwriter and producer Desmond Child, and Tennessee-based LGBT advocates to urge the governor to veto both the counseling bill, as well as an anti-transgender bill that was ultimately defeated in the legislature.
In addition, music industry leaders Ty Herndon, Miley Cyrus, ASCAP President Paul Williams, BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and performing rights company SESAC all spoke out against the bills.
Nashville actor Chris Carmack, who stood against the law while it was under consideration in the legislature, responded following news of the Governor's signature.
"I'm disappointed that the voices of so many Tennesseans – including my own – were not heard," Carmack said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "But I will never quit standing up for equality and acceptance and will continue to support fairness and love for all people whenever and however I am able."
A representative for Viacom and CMT said of the law, “As we have said in the past, Viacom and CMT deeply value diversity and inclusion and oppose any law that violates those principles."