Washington secretary of state to skip meeting in Tennessee due, in part, to new law there
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington secretary of state says no one from her office will attend a national conference in Tennessee in part because of a bill signed by the governor there allowing counselors to refuse to treat patients based the therapist’s religious or personal beliefs.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, said in a statement Wednesday that after consideration she will not go to the National Association of Secretaries summer meeting.
She also cited the state primary election happening shortly after the meeting and modernizing state systems as reasons for her to stay in Washington state.
Supporters say the bill protects the rights of therapists and allows them to refer patients to more appropriate counselors. Opponents say the legislation is part of a wave of bills around the nation that legalizes discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
“I have decided that neither I nor anyone from my office will attend the summer meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) in Nashville,” Wyman said in her statement issued Wednesday. “I have been considering this, since our state primary is shortly after the conference and we are modernizing our state corporations filing system. My staff and I know that we need to be focused on our priority, Washington.
“Also entering into my decision was today’s action by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to sign a bill that allows mental health counselors to refuse treatment of patients based on the therapist’s religious or personal beliefs,” she added.