'Partner' benefits only for homosexuals
University discriminates against 'straight' unmarried couples
Posted: July 10, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
Ohio University is offering "domestic-partner" benefits to employees, but only same-sex couples can apply.
Some critics say the school is setting itself up for a lawsuit by employees who want to add a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend to their insurance plans, the Athens, Ohio, News reported.
Eric Clift, a technical services specialist in OU's College of Osteopathic Medicine, told the paper if a heterosexual employee were to legally challenge the new policy as discriminatory, the university might have to either revoke the benefits for gay and lesbian employees, or extend them to straight employees, "which I have to think would (financially) cripple the benefits package at OU."
OU spokesperson Hub Burton responded to the criticism, explaining that in extending domestic-partner benefits only to same-sex couples, OU "chose to focus on those who don't have the right to get legally married. ... This is a matter of economic fairness."
The university explains its position on its website. [ http://www.uhr.ohiou.edu/benefits/DP_FAQs.htm
Burton noted other schools have a similar policy, including Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, which announced its new domestic-partner benefits policy the same day as OU's announcement.
Clift, however, says the policy discriminates against heterosexual couples who don't want to get married.
"You're forcing heterosexuals to get married to get these benefits," he told the Athens News.
Burton said the school expects the added costs to be negligible, with an estimated 20 employees likely to sign up at a projected cost of between ,000 and 0,000, the News reported.
Not all homosexual partners will receive the benefits.
The school defines domestic partners as individuals who are of the same sex, and share a regular and permanent residence, have a committed personal relationship, can demonstrate financial interdependence and who are not legally married or in another domestic partnership. Also, the couples must attest they have been together for at least six months. http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=39367