Will Tennessee Fight Military Benefits For Gay Couples? Doesn’t Sound Like It

Gov. Bill Haslam says he and Maj. Gen. Max Haston have not discussed same-sex benefits for soldiers. Credit: TN Photo Services

Gov. Bill Haslam says he and Maj. Gen. Max Haston have not discussed same-sex benefits for soldiers. Credit: TN Photo Services

Tennessee’s governor isn’t chomping at the bit to follow other Republican-led states that have blocked military benefits for same-sex couples. This week Oklahoma became the fourth state to try refusing benefits for legally married gay couples in the National Guard.

For now, the Tennessee Guard would be compelled by the new Pentagon policy to grant benefits to same-sex couples. But no one has applied just yet, according to a spokesman.

Governor Bill Haslam says he hasn’t broached the topic with his top general, adding that the issue isn’t “prominent” on his “radar.” He has discussed with Tennessee’s Commissioner of Veteran Affairs whether a same-sex spouse would get burial benefits in state cemeteries.

“A lot of those are issues we’ll have to work our way through,” Haslam told reporters.

 At the suggestion Haslam doesn’t sound eager to step in the middle of the same-sex benefits issues, he replied, “that’s fair.”

However, Haslam says that the state – as a whole – opposes gay marriage, and he doesn’t see that changing any time soon.

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