My Letter to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on the Tennessee Counselor and Therapist Bill

Slightly edited:

I am a heterosexual male family man who is a member of the United Methodist Church.  It is my understanding that a final bill is about to reach your desk for signature, and this bill allows Tennessee counselors and therapists to discriminate against Tennessee citizens by denying them treatment based on the therapist or counselor’s religious beliefs or other so-called “sincerely held beliefs.” I am kindly asking you to veto this piece of legislation for four very good reasons:

(1) This bill was written specifically to inflict persecution on the LGBTQ minority community in Tennessee. A civilized government does not institute laws designed to harm or destroy its citizens—in this case LGBTQ people with mental illnesses.

(2) Furthermore, this law is now written so vaguely that it would allow any Tennessee citizen the right to persecute another Tennessee citizen for any reason whatsoever—as long as that reason is sincerely held. That is just plain outrageous and would never pass muster in any court of law.

(3) Bills like this one, which are designed to persecute Tennessee citizens, will earn nothing but public shame for Tennessee. Businesses will leave Tennessee because of it, and new businesses will refuse to move to Tennessee because of it. It will do great harm to the reputation of the Volunteer State, and it will hurt the economy.

(4) I am an archaeologist and an American historian by profession. Prehistory and history are my daily business. You will only be in office for a couple of terms, and you have your historical legacy to consider. George C. Wallace thought he was doing the citizens of Alabama a favor by persecuting its black citizens with Jim Crow laws and beatings in the streets. Despite his best attempts to repair the damage he had caused before he died, he nonetheless died in disgrace and the history books remember only his disgraceful behavior. I am enough of a historian to know FOR CERTAIN that if you sign this persecution-oriented bill and other similar bills that will be moving through the Tennessee General Assembly in the future, historians 100 years from now will remember you in the same shroud of disgrace as George C. Wallace—as a persecutor of the LGBTQ community in Tennessee. As Marc Anthony said in the Shakespeare play “Julius Caesar,” “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interrèd with their bones.” Please do not take the good things you did as Governor of Tennessee to the grave with you one day and leave only this evil behind for your legacy in our American history books. Discrimination and persecution of LGBTQ people who have committed no crimes against the laws of Tennessee or any other state is just plain wrong, and it will be remembered as such 100 years from now in the history books. I can guarantee you that it will. Please veto this bill and stop the willful persecution of LGBTQ citizens in Tennessee.

Thank you very much for your time.

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