Same Sex Benefits: Nashville Mayor Says They’re About Tolerance

Marriage equality advocates rallied at the Metro Nashville Courthouse in August. The Tennessee Equality Project has planned an informational event about same sex benefits with two Metro Council members Oct. 21, 6:30 at OutCentral. Credit: TNEP via Facebook

Marriage equality advocates rallied at the Metro Nashville Courthouse in August. The Tennessee Equality Project has planned an informational event about same sex benefits with two Metro Council members Oct. 21, 6:30 at OutCentral. Credit: TNEP via Facebook

Offering benefits to the same sex partners of Metro employees is a matter of tolerance to Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. While a panel is being formed to study the cost of such a policy change, Dean says he feels it’s the right thing to do.

The push for same-sex benefits originated from the Metro Council, but Mayor Dean says he supports the idea, so long as it makes financial sense for the city.

Dean – who is a Democrat – says he’s not “driven by a political agenda.” He says following the corporate world in liberalizing benefits policies will make the city more attractive. He cites the three T’s coined by author Richard Florida, who says a flourishing city has technology, talent and tolerance.

“Tolerance is an important thing for a city to be great. And talent and technology can move around, and they’re going to move around where there is tolerance and where a city is open and friendly, and I think Nashville is all of those things.”

If the decision is made to move forward with benefits for same-sex couples, the mayor will have state lawmakers looking over his shoulder. Williamson County Republican Glen Casada says such a policy would have to be broadly written since the Tennessee constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

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