Bill that would let therapists reject gay clients heads to Tennessee Gov. Haslam

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam answers a question during a March 2013 news conference after speaking to a joint session of the Legislature in Nashville. A bill making the Holy Bible the state's official book is headed to his desk. (AP File Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE - Tennessee's mental health therapists and counselors could turn away gay patients because of their own "sincerely held principles" under a bill now on its way to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

Senators took final action Monday on the bill, opposed by the American Counseling Association, that would make Tennessee the only state allowing therapists to refuse to treat patients out of hand if Haslam signs it into law.

photo Sen. Jeff Yarbro

photo Tennessee state Sen. Jack Johnson

Senator agreed to a House amendment that changed the bill's original language from "sincerely held religious beliefs" to "sincerely held principles."

Tennessee's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has objected to the legislation, saying it could prove especially harmful to young LGBT students bullied at school.

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