- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The American Counseling Association on Tuesday said it is cancelling a Nashville conference in response to a state law allowing religious therapists and counselors to decline service to same-sex clients when doing so would violate their beliefs.

The ACA, which was a vocal opponent of SB1556/HB1840, said it is looking for a new location for its 2017 Conference & Expo.

“This was not an easy decision to make,” said Richard Yep, CEO of ACA, in a press release. “After thoughtful discussion, the ACA Governing Council made the difficult – and courageous – decision on behalf of our membership. Of all the state legislation I have seen passed in my 30 years with the AACA, the new Tennessee law based on Senate Bill 1556/House Bill 1840 is by far the worst.”

Mr. Yep said the law runs contrary to the ACA Code of Ethics.

“By relocating from Tennessee, ACA is standing up to this discriminatory law and we remain committed in the battle to ensure that this law does not become the national standard,” he said.

Critics say the law licenses discrimination against LGBT people, while its defenders say religious therapists should not be forced to counsel gay individuals on matters that would compromise their beliefs, such as providing marriage counseling to a same-sex couple.

The law prohibits counselors from turning away clients in immediate danger to themselves and requires them to refer the patients to other medical professionals.

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