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Advocates Continue Fight for Partner Benefits

Janet Frick wrote this response to UGA President Jere Morehead, who said yesterday that the administration has done all it can to get health insurance for employees’ domestic partners.

The argument being used by Uga administrators for why Uga foundation funds can’t be used for domestic partner benefits is this: The foundation funds themselves are private funds. But the Uga foundation is administered by people who are state employees. Therefore, the salary of these individuals and the benefits these individuals receive as state employees are provided by the state; therefore indirectly, “state funds” would be used to administer any domestic partner benefits program because of the work of these employees with the foundation.  (And this is alleged to be in violation of state policy and potentially state law). 

This is convoluted logic that really does not make sense when you dig into it. Foundation funds are private, and they can be used for what Uga sees as mission-critical. Its the source of the funds, not the salaries of the people who work with the foundation, is the issue of concern. On that front, we are fine. The chancellor of the Board of Regents has given us the green light to use foundation funds for this program. I say, let’s go for it, and if someone wants to raise an objection, let them. Let the burden be on people who oppose benefits equality, and let’s not anticipate their arguments and make it easier for them.  Remember: over 75% of Uga’s peer and aspirational institutions have full benefits equality for all employee families. The percentage is even higher when you look at the top ranked US colleges and universities, including public ones. Other state universities have figured out how to do this, even if they are in a state that does not have marriage equality. We can figure this out. 

Advocates from UGA GLOBES, the University Council human resources committee, and other individuals who are committed to this cause look forward to a productive dialogue with the new administration about how we can follow best practices of leading institutions when it comes to benefits equality and commitment to diversity.