The American Counseling Association was planning to hold its 2017 national convention in Nashville, but after Tennessee lawmakers passed a law allowing for religious discrimination in counseling, the organization decided not to reward the state with its business. Last week, the ACA announced it would instead be heading to the “inclusive and inviting city” of San Francisco.
The new Tennessee law ensures that any counselor or therapist can decide not to provide services to a client if doing so violates their religious beliefs. A lawsuit challenging its constitutionality points out that it flagrantly violates the ACA Code of Ethics, which the state had previously embraced as the standard for its counselors and therapists.
Back in May, ACA officials announced that after hearing complaints from many members, they would move the convention somewhere else. “Of all the state legislation I have seen passed in my 30 years with ACA, the new Tennessee law based on Senate Bill 1556/House Bill 1840 is by far the worst. This law directly targets the counseling profession, would deny services to those most in need, and constitutes a dilemma for ACA members because it allows for violation of ACA’s Code of Ethics,” CEO Richard Yep said at the time. “By relocating from Tennessee, ACA is standing up to this discriminatory law and we remain committed in the battle to ensure that this law does not become the national standard.”
After fielding bids from 13 cities, the organization announced last week that it had selected San Francisco to be its 2017 host. Noting that the organization has never had to make a decision like that before, Yep assured that “this change signals that we are committed to serving our diverse members and helping them provide the support their clients need.”
The conference is expected to bring in 4,000 members and an estimated $5 million in revenue.