COLUMBIA — President Barack Obama extended insurance benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees this summer through the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act.
But despite an ongoing discussion of the matter at MU, nothing has happened. A recent article in the Columbia Daily Tribune reported that some MU faculty and staff are saying this is driving away current or potential professors.
Extending such benefits would allow gay and lesbian employees to add their partners to their university insurance packages. This isn't the first time the issue has been brought up at the University of Missouri System. In 2005, the Board of Curators did not support a proposal to include domestic partner benefits, an issue discussed in the 2008 Mizzou Diversity Summit.
According to the American Association of University Professors, more than 300 universities offer health insurance benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.
So why not the UM System? In the Tribune article, Betsy Rodriguez, system vice president of human resources, said "it just wasn't the right time" last year, because both she and President Gary Forsee were new.
But in an arguably more progressive time, when more states have approved recognition of same-sex marriage (including the nation's capital), it's probable this issue will come up once again. In Missouri, same-sex marriage is illegal and such marriages from other states are not recognized here. The argument, then, is whether to extend benefits to partners who cannot legally marry.
Should the UM System institute domestic partner benefits?