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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Wyman cancels trip to Tennessee

OLYMPIA -- Add Tennessee to the list of states that Washington officials won't go.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman cancelled a trip to Nashville where the National Association of Secretaries of State will be holding their summer meeting, in part because that state's governor signed a bill allowing mental health counselors to refuse treatment based on their sincerely held principles, unless the patient is at risk of imminent harm. 

Critics say the new law would allow therapists and other mental health professionals to refuse to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender patients based. 

In announcing she won't be going to Music City, Wyman said there are other considerations. The state has a primary shortly after the meeting and the office is upgrading its corporations filing system, so it wasn't a good time to be away.

But the signing of the legislation clinched the deal. In a press release, Wyman said neither she nor four other members of her staff who were scheduled to attend the meetings would be going, in part because of the bill that was just signed.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Inslee issued executive orders banning most travel by state employees to Mississippi after that state enacted a law allowing businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers based on religious beliefs, and to North Carolina for a law that requires transgender people to use the public restroom or other facility based on the gender on their birth certificate, not their gender identity.

Last year, Inslee briefly imposed a ban on state-employee travel to Indiana over that state's "religious objections" law, which prohibited laws that substantially burdened a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. That was lifted a few days later when the Indiana law was amended to offer protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Being a travel agent for state employees gets more challenging all the time.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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