College leader bars same-sex benefits

The decision follows a new state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and woman.
Thursday, September 2, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:40 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Columbia College President Gerald Brouder said Wednesday he opposes a faculty proposal to provide benefits to same-sex partners of college employees.

“The college is not at a point in its history, certainly not with me as president, to entertain further the notion that we might one day offer such benefits,” Brouder said.

Last spring, the college’s faculty association recommended the college adopt new rules providing same-sex partners from the school’s faculty and staff the same benefits afforded to married couples.

The proposal called for health care, dental care, retirement and life insurance benefits for non-married partners of all employees.

Columbia College provides benefits to the spouses and children of employees.

Brouder said he considered the implications of an endorsement and decided “the proposal had a fate equivalent to dying in committee.”

“In good conscience I could not endorse it to the board,” he said. “I had to determine that it was not in the best interest of the college at large.”

In August, Missourians voted to amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

“If the law would change we would potentially re-examine the policy, and until that time occurs we are not going to provide same-sex partners with benefits,” Brouder said.

He also expressed concerns about fraud. He said he trusts employees not to take advantage but warns there are people out there who could corrupt the system.

“Folks will co-habitate without any sexual relationship just to gain benefits,” Brouder said. “Where does it end?”

Celeste Mazzacano, the Columbia College professor who spearheaded the proposal, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

As president, Brouder decides which issues reach the college’s governing board.

“The board has delegated to me certain authorities, and they, in return, have certain expectations of me,” Brouder said. “I know my board.”

Neither MU nor Stephens College offer benefits to gay and lesbian partners of their employees.

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