Magazine article Workforce

Two Steps Forward for Domestic-Partner Benefits

Magazine article Workforce

Two Steps Forward for Domestic-Partner Benefits

Article excerpt

IN LATE NOVEMBER, THE UNIVERSITY OF California Board of Regents voted to extend health benefits to the domestic partners of its gay employees. The plan was narrowly approved in a 13 to 12 vote by the leaders of the nine-campus system which employs 130,000 people. The new mandate means gay and lesbian employees' partners can get health benefits, although the significant others of unmarried heterosexual university workers can't.

There were many opponents to the ruling, including California Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, who said during the proceedings that extending the employee benefits was "devaluing marriage."

In rebuttal, supporters of the measure said it would enhance the university system's ability to attract and retain quality professors-a process which might otherwise suffer because other leading institutions such as Harvard and Stanford have already adopted similar policies.

The university system's new practice follows in the wake of a groundbreaking law passed in 1996 by the state of Hawaii that requires employers to provide family health coverage to an employee's domestic partner if he or she is registered with the state as a "reciprocal beneficiary. …

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