Sometimes you have to take a minute to stand back from an issue and take a look at how it's being talked about. We're at that point with the SB1556/HB1840, the Counseling Discrimination bill. Here are some things I'm noticing.
Tennessee coverage: First, the Tennessee media have provided strong coverage of the bill, which is a real positive for citizens of the state. State legislation can be really hard for most citizens to follow, but the state's media have done a fine job of taking a look at the bill at every stage so far. You can find some of the coverage here.
National coverage: I'd say more about this topic, except there hasn't been much national coverage. Understandably and rightly, there has been significant coverage of the South Dakota anti-transgender student bathroom bill, the Kentucky bill that provides separate marriage licenses for same-sex and different-sex couples, and the Georgia First Amendment Defense Act. So the national LGBT community probably doesn't realize what we're up against with this bill or that they'll likely see it at some point in their states. Unfortunately for Tennessee, when there is less national coverage, there is less national help.
Who's for the bill vs who's against it: Sen. Jack Johnson is frequently quoted in the press defending the bill. It's his bill and he should be the one making the case for it so that makes sense. I respect the fact that he is available to the media to do so. But where are the counselors whom he says he's representing? Why are none of them speaking out for the bill? It makes one wonder whether they exist or whether they know how to make the case for the bill. It would be helpful for the media to press for answers to this question about the identity of the bill's proponents and interview some of them. That would help advance the debate.
Speaking of the debate, it continues on Tuesday when the bill comes up in the House Health Subcommittee.