The wave of states and communities embracing benefits for same-sex couples hasn't moved Gov. Bill Haslam to change his position.
The Tennessee governor told reporters Monday that same-sex benefits is "not something we as an administration will be pushing" and he doubted the Republican-dominated legislature will take the matter up either.
"To me that doesn't feel like something that's imminent," he said.
Metro Nashville is on track to become the fourth community in Tennessee to extend domestic benefits to same-sex couples, joining Chattanooga, Collegedale and Knoxville, Haslam's hometown. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in Ohio has scheduled arguments in a case that could require Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state.
Haslam sidestepped when asked in a follow-up question what he would do if the legislature passed a bill that required local governments to roll back same-sex benefits. The General Assembly has debated such legislation several times in recent years, and in 2011 Haslam signed a bill that overrode a Metro ordinance that said contractors with Metro could not discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Despite professing to have forgotten many of the details of that debate, Haslam did his best to state both sides of the argument without committing to either side.
"As a whole, I think the state should be very cautious about telling local government what they should do unless there's some statewide implication from that."