BGSU same-sex benefits are ‘welcome and needed’Written by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
The campus reaction to Bowling Green State University’s decision to extend health care benefits to same-sex partners of university employees has been largely positive, faculty and staff members say.
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously at its Oct. 1 meeting to extend the benefits starting Jan. 1. In addition, children and same-sex domestic partners will have access to the same educational fee waiver, sick leave and family medical leave as do employee spouses and dependent children.
Rebecca Ferguson, vice president for human resources, said the move brings BGSU in line with most other four-year public universities in Ohio, including the University of Toledo.
Board meetings are typically not well-attended, but two full rows of people came to the Oct. 1 meeting to support the passage of the same-sex benefits measure, Ferguson said.
“People feel good about it,” Ferguson said. “We have a phenomenal new board chair who asked if there was anything the campus was asking for, and he said ‘OK, let’s figure out how to get it done’.”
Annie Russell, coordinator of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Programs and Services in BGSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, agreed the change was welcome and needed.
“BGSU has taken a huge step forward in valuing all faculty and staff and their talents,” Russell wrote in an e-mail to Toledo Free Press. “We are no longer restricting ourselves in terms of hiring quality employees and we are opening ourselves up as a welcoming and friendly institution. I applaud this monumental move toward equality and inclusion!”
The university expects about 15 domestic partners will be added to its health care plan at a cost of about $80,000 — compared to the estimated $750,000 increase anticipated from the federally and state-mandated addition of adult children BSGU faces, according to a news release.
To be eligible for domestic partner benefits, the couple must be committed to an exclusive relationship and living together for at least six months. They must demonstrate financial interdependence through mortgages, leases, automobile ownership, bank and credit card accounts and/or designation as a beneficiary in wills or life insurance policies. The same rule applies as with married couples: if the domestic partner’s employer offers an equivalent health care plan, the partner must enroll in that plan as his or her primary coverage.