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March 1, 2012 Volume 33, No. 22

Domestic partner benefits subject of Staff Council meeting


Faculty Council representative extolls partner benefits

Leona Rubin, Faculty Council representative, asked the Staff Advisory Council Feb. 23 to support domestic partner benefits at the university. 

“Our nondiscrimination clause says we don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and yet we do,” said Rubin, an associate professor of veterinary medicine. “But it’s a difficult issue. If you have strong religious convictions, it’s conflicting.”

Rubin told council members about the plight of a University Hospital nurse and her partner, who was pregnant but without health insurance. The nurse’s MU health coverage wouldn’t cover her partner’s medical costs.

Support for the benefits was unanimous at the meeting. But many council members also asked that a survey be conducted among staff to better represent the staff voice. 

Council members also wanted a stronger definition of “domestic partners.”

The domestic partner benefits would not include heterosexual couples, Rubin said, because these couples already receive benefits at the state and federal levels. The projected cost for covering domestic partner benefits would be less than 1 percent of the UM System’s budget, Rubin said.

In a human resources survey taken at the university two years ago, half of respondents favored implementing domestic partnership benefits, Rubin said. Mizzou is one of five schools in the 61-strong Association of American Universities that does not provide domestic partner benefits, Rubin said. The University of Texas, Texas A&M and the University of Kansas cannot provide benefits because Texas and Kansas legislators have outlawed them.

“We have people who think we are very backward and conservative in our approach,” Rubin said. 

Other schools in the mid-Missouri region, including Stephens College, Westminster University and William Woods University, provide benefits.

UM System President Tim Wolfe has said the Board of Curators needs to make a decision on the issue by the end of the year. — Trevor Eischen