'Nashville' Actor, CMT, GLAAD Respond to Tennessee Gov. Signing Anti-LGBT Counseling Bill
"I'm disappointed that the voices of so many Tennesseans — including my own — were not heard."
On Wednesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a bill allowing mental health counselors to refuse services to patients based on the counselor's "sincerely held principles." The bill was heavily criticized by many in Hollywood and the music industry ahead of Haslam signing it into law, and it continues to be denounced as discriminatory to LGBT individuals.
Chris Carmack, an actor who plays gay country music singer Will Lexington on ABC's Nashville, was outspoken about the bill before it was made law and said he's "disappointed" that Haslam signed it.
"I'm disappointed that the voices of so many Tennesseans — including my own — were not heard," Carmack said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "But I will never quit standing up for equality and acceptance and will continue to support fairness and love for all people whenever and however I am able."
A representative for Viacom and CMT stated, “As we have said in the past, Viacom and CMT deeply value diversity and inclusion and oppose any law that violates those principles.”
GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis also released a statement about the new law. “Denying anyone vital mental health services simply because they’re LGBT isn’t just outrageous, it’s outright dangerous,” said Ellis. “What’s clear, however, is that legislative attacks that target LGBT people are bad for business. Sadly, the bedrock of Tennessee’s economy — the record companies of Nashville — remained silent throughout the fight to pass this discriminatory law. It's time that they join the growing chorus of Americans demanding an end to discrimination.”
Nashville leading actress Connie Britton previously said she would not necessarily "feel comfortable" working in Tennessee, where the show is filmed, should this type of legislation become law.
"That is a tricky situation because of course we employ a lot of people in the state, and you certainly don't want to have to interrupt that, but at the same time, this is the only way that we can have our voices be heard," said Britton, after the bill was passed but before the governor had made his decision.
"In general, the language in [the counseling] bill is some of the most discriminatory that we've seen, certainly in my lifetime," said the actress, "And to take on that kind of stigma in our state as a legislator, that would not be a very great way to represent the people."
THR has reached out to Britton for comment on Haslam's signing of the bill.