Domestic Partner Benefits History

A Brief Documentary Account of the History of Domestic
Partner Benefits at the University of Nebraska

Part I

Spring 1992

Annual Report of Homophobia Awareness Committee to Chancellor Graham Spanier:

University benefits such as health insurance, family leaves to take care of
domestic partners who are sick or incapacitated, bereavement leaves, housing for
Graduate student couples...should be provided for lesbian and gay domestic partners.

Meeting with Chancellor Spanier, followed by his written response:

The issues associated with fringe benefits, as you are aware, are among the most
complex we face in this area, largely because of the legal issues involved.  I have
written to the UNL Employee Benefits Committee to review this question.  This topic was recently discussed at the President?s cabinet meeting, where I supported
a revision in the proposed family leave policy to accommodate Gay and Lesbian couples.  Although there does not appear to be sufficient support among the University leadership and the Regents, I have asked that the policy be flexible so that a Chancellor could in turn be flexible in the implementation of the policy.  I hope to be able to report some success in this regard as the policy moves forward.

Spring 1992

Letter to John Russell, then Assistant Vice President for Administration and Director of Personnel revising family leave and benefits policies, from Vernon Williams, on behalf of the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Support Group:

. . .an equitable ?family-friendly? policy should offer same-sex partner benefits that   include at least the following: health and counseling services, medical and dental   insurance, bereavement leave, sick leave, parenting leave...[etc.].

Accompanied by offer of relevant research and information and request for Russell to be proactive.
John Russell?s Memo to Vernon Williams:

I have received a letter from the aforementioned group regarding benefits in general, and the proposed family leave policy in particular.  Please be assured that the suggestions of the group, as well as the supporting material presented, will be given consideration as the policy is finalized.

1992 - 1993 - A university wide survey of employees is taken by UNL. Twelve percent of the respondents indicate that domestic partner benefits are one of their top 5 concerns. This result did not appear in the general report.

Fall of 1992

Draft of resolution sent by George Wolf to the Academic Senate:

 Equity in Benefits

As a simple and clear issue of fairness and justice and in full accordance with existing University of Nebraska nondiscrimination policy, the Academic Senate urges the University to make available to the domestic partners of lesbian and gay employees the same benefits now accorded to the spouses of heterosexual employees.  The current denial of such benefits to lesbian and gay employees deprives them of effective income worth several thousands of dollars per year.  These benefits include:

(1) Health insurance coverage
(2) Family leave

No record of any action taken.

 Part II

Winter 1994, February

Report of the Academic Senate?s Benefits Committee, distributed before March meeting:

Benefits for same sex partners
The committee discussed at length the advantages and disadvantages of offering benefits for same sex partners.  We tabled the topic following a discussion concerning the difficulty of limiting coverage to same sex partners.  We believe issues covering same sex domestic partners, elderly parents, and children who graduated from colleges and returned home would also need to be addressed.  In light of the possibility of a national health care plan that would make this discussion moot [?] and possible negative political repercussions, we believe it wise not to proceed with the investigation of benefits for same sex partners at this time.

Winter 1994, March

Statement from Barbara DiBernard, then Co-Chair of the Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns, read by George Wolf, Senate member, at March meeting:

We urge the UNL Employee Benefits Committee to reconsider its decision "not to proceed with the investigation of benefits for same sex partners at this time."  We find it hard to reconcile this decision with UNL?s non-discrimination policy which includes sexual orientation as a protected category.  The members of the Committee on Lesbian & Gay Concerns believe that the inability of University employees to obtain benefits for their same sex partners is a form of discrimination which goes counter to this stated policy. . . .  We urge the Benefits Committee to contact a representative sample of. . .schools [offering domestic partner benefits] for copies of their policies and information about their processes in adopting them, and to report back to the Senate with their findings in a year?s time.

Spring 1996

Academic Senate's Benefits Committee, Chaired by Agnes Adams, recommends and Senate  adopts a resolution supporting ?the concept of extending benefits to domestic partners? and recommending that the issue be ?favorably? considered by the University-Wide Fringe Benefits Committee.

1995 - 1996: Pat Tetreault serves on the Employee Liaison Committee (ELC) of UAAD (University Association for Administrative Development). The issue of domestic partner benefits is brought to the attention of the committee. Despite bringing this concern to the committee, it was not included as an issue or concern in the ELC report for 1995 - 1996.

Summer 1996, August

University-Wide Fringe Benefits Committee permanently tables consideration of domestic  partner benefits.

Omaha World-Herald, August 16, 1996:

   A University of Nebraska benefits committee Thursday rejected a proposal to include the live-in partners of NU employees in the university's insurance program.
   John Russell, an associate vice president for the NU system, said the committee voted 6-3 against the proposal, which had been forwarded to the committee by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Academic Senate. . . .
   The proposal, which was endorsed by the UNL Academic Senate last April on a 30-24 vote, was designed to provide health benefits to unmarried domestic partners, including homosexual partners, of university employees.
 
   The proposal was initiated by the UNL Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns.     Russell said the NU committee agreed not to reconsider the matter until legal, financial and other matters are resolved.
   He said he did not think the committee opposed the proposal on moral grounds.  Rather, he said, there are questions about how state law would have affected the plan and whether siblings or parents living with an NU employee would be included.
   Russell, the chief staff member to the committee, said research has indicated that including domestic partners in a benefit program does not significantly affect the claims of an institution.  But NU nevertheless would have to pay premiums for the additional people in the plan, he said, which could be expensive.
   He said he thought some members of the committee also were concerned about the impact the policy might have on the public's perception of the university.  Nebraska, he said, is a conservative state. . . .
   After taking the vote to reject the proposal, the committee decided on a 6-1 vote, with two abstentions, not to take any further action.
   Russell said the committee made that decision for two reasons.  One was so that the proposal would not repeatedly come before the committee.  The other was to show that the committee would be open to it when legal, financial and other issues are resolved.

Summer 1996, August 20

Letter to John Russell from Pat Tetreault and George Wolf, Co-Chairs, Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns:

The UNL Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns (CLGC), through reports in the press, is aware of the NU-Wide Benefits Committee's decision to deny Domestic Partner Benefits to NU employees at this time.  We are also aware of the Benefits Committee's decision not to consider the issue again until unspecified financial, legal, and other issues have been resolved.

On behalf of the CLGC, we would like to offer the Benefits Committee our assistance in resolving these issues.  Since press accounts were vague, would you be willing to spell out for us the specific issues about which some members of the Benefits Committee felt inadequately informed?  We were pleased to see that a third of the committee's members already support the proposal to offer gay and lesbian NU employees a benefits and compensation package equitable with benefits currently provided to married employees. . . .

 
Again, we are available to assist the University-Wide Benefits Committee as it works towards resolving the discrepancies in benefits provided to the University's unmarried and married employees.  We've assembled extensive information?including analyses of the financial impact of DP benefits on universities and private corporations, legal precedents and court decisions, personal accounts of the financial consequences of not having domestic partner benefits available, and procedures in place at universities offering such benefits?we'd be happy to share with you.

Summer 1996, September 6

Memo from John Russell to Pat Tetreault and George Wolf:

After first voting not to extend benefits to domestic partners, the Committee did subsequently vote not to reconsider the matter until legal, financial, and other matters are resolved (to its satisfaction).  However, it was not, in my opinion, the Committee's intention to actively engage in the resolution of those issues.  It was my sense that the Committee instead intended to make a statement that until such issues, and the limitations created by them, are resolved by the appropriate jurisdictions (judicial, legislative, etc.), the matter should not be reconsidered.

Regarding your offer of additional information, we have compiled a rather extensive set of information on this topic, some of which was shared with the Committee for their consideration prior to acting on the proposal.  This information includes reports, surveys, samples of programs now in existence, cost reports, etc.  As a result, I don't believe more information is required at this time. . . .

December 1996 - In a memo to the UAAD Employee Liaison Committee members, Pat Tetreault requested that UAAD's support for tuition remission benefits be available to all employees in accordance with the non-discrimination policy. The memo pointed out that 2 active members of the Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns were UAAD members at the time and one member was a UNOPA member. Despite the continued requests to UAAD to support equity for GLBT employees, UAAD has consistently refused to advocate for equitable compensation for sexual minority staff or seriously consider support for GLBT and unmarried employees.

Spring 1997, May

Annual Report of the Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns to UNL Chancellor James  Moeser:
 
  During the last year the extension of domestic partner benefits to the partners of gay   and lesbian faculty and staff has continued to make headway in academic, business,   and civic communities in the United States and throughout the world.  Often these   benefits have also been extended to domestic partners of the opposite sex.  Most   recently they have also included relatives domiciled with personnel who are financially   responsible for them.  The Committee urges the administration of the university to   publicly support such developments in conformity with UNL's non-discrimination   policy regarding sexual orientation.
 
   In its March 1996 Report, the Employment Benefits Committee of the UNL Academic Senate stated that it "supports the concept of extending benefits to domestic partners" and recommended that the issue be "favorably" considered by the University-wide Fringe Benefits Committee.  The recommendation was adopted by the University Senate on April 2, 1996.  However, at its meeting last summer the University-wide Committee, chaired by Associate Vice President for Business and Finance John P. Russell, tabled the Senate's proposal until unspecified financial, legal, and other issues could be resolved.  Vice President Russell informed the Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns that the Fringe Benefits Committee has "no intention to actively engage in the resolution of these issues."

   As time passes on the university's stance on domestic partner benefits will undoubtedly affect its standing in the national community, both with regard to prospective lesbian and gay faculty and staff, and in the eyes of others concerned with fair standards of equity.  Several of the institutions the Board of Regents has officially designated as UNL's peer institutions, such as Iowa State and the University of Minnesota, already provide domestic partner benefits.  Though the legal issues are complex, court cases in Alaska and Oregon have also mandated domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian couples.

   While we realize that the issue may at this time lead to lively debate in the political arena, the Committee would like to be able to respond to inquiries directed to it by faculty and staff who are considering employment at UNL with assurances that progress is being made in achieving equitable treatment.

1997 - 1998 - Pat Tetreault resigns from the ELC and UAAD due to the refusal of the committee members and UAAD to support equitable compensation for all managerial / profession staff. The issue does get mentioned in the UAAD update.

 Part III

1998
 
Here the Domestic Partner Benefits story begins to intertwine with the drafting of UNL?s Diversity Plan.  The drafters of that Plan?Linda Crump (Director of the Affirmative Action and Diversity Programs), Evelyn Jacobson (Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs), and Bruce Currin (Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources) solicited the Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns? responses to their first draft and met with the Committee in late February.  Among the many issues members of the Committee raised, the minutes of that meeting show, was ?the university administration?s resistance, over the past five years, to any tangible progress in treating its partnered staff and its married staff equally, not only regarding medical and dental benefits, but in such spheres as funeral, bereavement, and other leaves as well.?

In March the Committee on GLBT Concerns  received a memo from Bruce Currin asking it to review proposed changes in UNL?s benefits policies and procedures.  The Committee did so,  drafting specific changes in language that avoided the entire issue of medical benefits, but concentrated on extending benefits routinely offered to legal spouses of employees to qualified domestic partners in the following areas:

funeral leave
 
sick leave
family/medical leave of absence
crisis leave sharing policy

When the new policies appeared on the University?s Web Site the summer of 1998, they contained none of these soft-money recommendations.

Summer 1998

Memos sent to Bruce Currin, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, by the Committee on GLBT Concerns Co-Chairs, Pat Tetreault (then Stephen Russell) and George Wolf, requesting reasons "why the detailed suggestions regarding more equitable leave benefits. . .solicited from our Committee during your review of UNL's policies and procedures were rejected."

Summer 1998, September 15

Letter from Bruce Currin to Committee on GLBT Concerns Co-Chairs:

Human Resources policies at UNL are developed and implemented within parameters established by university-wide policies out of Central Administration.  The revisions you suggested were to policies defining available leave?namely funeral leave, sick leave, family/medical leave, and crisis leave?all policies promulgated by Central Administration.  Your request was not acted on because we do not have the ability to unilaterally create our own leave policy definition on this campus.  Changes such as the ones you suggested must be enacted by Central Administration.  As you have correctly noted in your letter, the leave policies are provided to serve needs in the "immediate family," and the current Central Administration policy definition of "immediate family" does not include "same-sex domestic partner."

Fall 1998

In a subsequent letter, Bruce Currin explained that:

Recommendations that were forwarded to Varner Hall concerning Human Resources policies did not include domestic partner benefits issues because of the diversity document planned dissemination.

Fall 1998, September

Working Draft of UNL Diversity Plan:

Inclusiveness: We recommend that University policies, most especially those relating to benefits, be examined to ensure that policies are equitable and accessible, and that the definition of family is broadly defined to include domestic partners.

Fall 1998, October 15

UNL's Committee on GLBT Concerns hosts a Campus Forum to educate campus community
about inequities in university compensation and benefits.  Local TV channels 8 and 11 broadcast reports on the Forum that evening.  The October 16 Daily Nebraskan reports that:

Inequality and lack of understanding surrounding domestic partner insurance benefits pervades UNL, but the university does not seem to consider it a necessary part of "diversity," faculty members said Thursday.

Winter 1998, December

Annual Report of the Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns to Chancellor James Moeser:

Domestic Partner Benefits

   Increasing numbers of Fortune 500 corporations (including US West), counties and municipalities (including Broward County, Florida), and universities (including Illinois State University and the entire University of California system) this year joined those already extending domestic partner benefits to their employees.  During 1997?98, UNL administrators, by contrast,  rejected each of our Committee's specific proposals regarding more equitable policies in the areas of Funeral Leave, Sick Leave, Family/Medical Leave of Absence, and Crisis Leave Sharing.  We have explained in memos to and meetings with the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and the Director of  Affirmative Action and Diversity Programs why domestic partner benefits are critical to the university's ability to hire and retain a diverse and highly qualified faculty and staff, as  well as being fundamental to the fair and equal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees.

   At the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources's request we drafted revisions of then?current leave policies to make them equitable for employees in same?sex domestic partnerships at virtually no expense to the university.  The actual revisions issued by the Human Resources office this summer revealed that the administration had squandered our effort and time.

   As recorded  in the previous section of this Report, we are relieved to see the first positive request by administrators at any level for a reexamination of university benefits policies to allow for the inclusion of domestic partners.  The Committee must here reiterate, however, its skepticism about the strength of administrative commitment to domestic partner benefits, given repeated qualifications?like those in the September draft of the Diversity Plan?that invoke funding limitations,  and repeated citations by administrators of erroneous cost figures for domestic partner benefits, and repeated soto voce remarks about "political ramifications."  In the absence of any substantial initiative on the part of UNL administrators in response to the Academic Senate's endorsement of domestic partner benefits in April 1996 or to our own requests and proposals, we now mean to examine how best to secure the full range of domestic partner benefits through other channels.  A case law review is already underway.  Preparations for initiating grievance procedures are currently moving forward.  Academic Senate and AAUP support is being enlisted.  Press contacts, local and national, are being explored. The administration's reluctance to move ahead makes it necessary for us to initiate actions to ensure that UNL's non?discrimination statement acquires palpable meaning.

Winter 1998, December

Shari Clarke, Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Equity, organizes system- wide meeting on Domestic Partner Benefits for January 25, 1999.

Winter 1999, January 25

Individuals interested in Domestic Partner Benefits from UNL, UNO, and UNMC  meet at Varner Hall to assess the current situation and discuss future strategy.

Winter 1999, February 20

Recommendations from UNL in the University-Wide Gender Equity Committee?s 1999 Report to the Board of Regents include the adoption of Domestic Partner Benefits:

Goals and areas that require ongoing attention to assure continued success in the area of gender equity are as follows:
 
1.  Family support policies and benefits need to encompass all families, not just those that are traditionally defined.  We urge the passage of benefits for domestic partners.

Spring 1999, April 6

UNL Academic Senate Benefits Committee asks the Senate to reaffirm its 1996 vote  requesting the University to adopt domestic partner benefits.  With few dissents, the  Senate votes in favor of its Benefits Committee's request and directs UNL's representatives  to reintroduce the matter at the University-Wide Benefits Committee.

Spring 1999, April 15

UNO's Faculty Senate votes in favor of endorsing the adoption of domestic partner benefits.

Spring 1999, June 7

Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns meets with UNL Chancellor Moeser and discusses ways the Committee might proceed, given that decisions regarding benefits are made by Central Administration.

Summer 1999, June 23

Second Draft of Comprehensive Diversity Plan for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln presented.
Among the Recommendations under ?Family Friendly Policies? the following appears:

Benefit Equity.  The University will continue to express its commitment to and advocacy for an examination of policies, especially those relating to benefits, to ensure they are equitable and accessible, and that the definition of family is broadly defined to include domestic partners.  The University also recognizes that the decision-making authority related to this resides at the Regental level.

Summer 1999, September 3

Members of ASUN attend CGLBTC meeting and express interest in domestic partner benefits.

Summer 1999, September

Academic/Faculty Senate Presidents from UNL, UNO, UNMC, and UNK meet with President Smith, register their support for domestic partner benefits, and discuss how to proceed.

 Part IV

Fall 1999, September 24

Members of the CGLBTC meet with members of UNO?s Faculty/Staff  Gay/Straight Alliance to discuss strategy.

Fall 1999, November 5

Members of the UNL Academic Senate?s Human Rights Committee and Benefits Committee meet with members of the Chancellor?s Commission on the Status of Women, ASUN, and the CGLBTC to discuss strategy.

Winter 2000, January

UNL Academic Senate?s Human Rights Committee reports its support for same sex domestic partner benefits to Senate President Gail Latta.  The Committee?s report includes the following:

We believe that medical and non-medical benefits are a right to all employees and their partners at UNL.  Denying benefits to employees? partners who are in same-sex domestic relationships is nothing short of discrimination based on employees? sexual orientation.  Consequently, UNL employees who are in same-sex domestic relationship[s] are at an economic disadvantage because they receive fewer benefits than employees who are in relationships ?recognized? the University.  No form of discrimination should be tolerated
...or institutionalized in practice at UNL.

The report went on to outline ?three constructive reasons why UNL should provide benefits to employees who are in same-sex domestic relationships.?

First, UNL is part of a shrinking minority of nationally recognized universities who do not provide benefits to same-sex domestic partners.  According to our research. . .among the 50 Tier 1 universities (recognized by U.S. News and World Report, 1999. . .) 62%...of them provide benefits to same-sex domestic partners. . . .  It is clear from the research that among nationally recognized universities it is important to provide benefits for employees in same-sex domestic relationships in order to be a competitive employer of nationally and internationally recognized scholars and researchers. . . .

Second, we believe that in order for UNL to maintain a positive and diverse work, research, and learning environment it cannot discriminate against employees who are in same-sex relationships.  Barring employees who are in same-sex relationships from full access to benefits which their co-workers currently enjoy penalizes them for their sexual orientation and sends a clear message to all UNL students, staff, faculty and the public on where UNL stands on issues relating to diversity.  This message is that UNL supports diversity, but that it chooses to financially discriminate against employees who are in same-sex domestic relationships.  Such a message corrupts the University?s efforts to support all types of diversity.

Third, UNL?s lack of support for same-sex domestic partners makes it less able to attract women faculty as well as making it less supportive of women who are in same-sex relationships to continue working at UNL.  The University is currently not upholding its state legislative mandate to attract and retain more women faculty at UNL.. . . .  One way UNL can better recruit future quality women faculty members is to have a benefits policy that does not discriminate against women who are in a same-sex relationship.  Providing benefits to same-sex domestic partners will improve our chances of hiring and retaining quality women faculty.

Winter 2000, January 21

Second meeting of group assembled on Nov. 5, 1999, with representative from UNO, to continue discussing strategy.

Winter 2000, February 15

ASUN Open Forum to discuss same sex domestic partner benefits prior to ASUN Resolution of support for such benefits to be considered at the Senate?s February 23 meeting.

Winter 2000, February 23

ASUN passes Bill 21 supporting domestic partner benefits, the text of which follows:

SENATE BILL #21
1999-2000
Domestic Partner Benefits

WHEREAS, the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska (ASUN)
 
is committed to creating an accepting and inclusive environment, and

WHEREAS section 1.2 of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Policy and
Procedures on Unlawful Discrimination reads,
  UNL has a policy of equal educational and employment opportunities and of   nondiscrimination in the classroom and workplace. Educational programs, support   services and workplace behavior, including decisions regarding hiring, promotion,   discipline, termination and all other terms and conditions of employment, should be   made without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national   origin, age, disability, veteran status, marital status or sexual orientation
and

WHEREAS the ASUN nondiscrimination clause, section 1.4 of ASUN bylaws, states, "ASUN  may not discriminate in the selection of members or appointment on the basis of a person's  age, race, national origin, color, gender, creed, handicap, sexual orientation, or place of  residence,"  and

WHEREAS the inclusion of domestic partners of employees in providing employee benefits  would ensure equal treatment of all UNL faculty, staff  and students without regard to their  sexual orientation, and

WHEREAS multiple groups from across campus, including the Committee on Gay, Lesbian,  Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns (CGLBTC), the Academic Senate Human Rights  Committee, the Academic Senate, the Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women, the  ASUN Sexual Orientation Advisory Council, and the ASUN Human Rights Committee, have  called for the provision of benefits for domestic partners in order to comply with the above- referenced nondiscrimination policy, and

WHEREAS currently, according to the University of Nebraska 1999 Benefits Enrollment  Booklet: NUFLEX, benefits are only available to partners of University employees who are  either "husband or wife, as recognized under the laws of the state of Nebraska" or "common- law spouse if your common-law marriage was contracted in a jurisdiction recognizing a  common-law marriage," and

WHEREAS a "domestic partnership" is generally defined as an ongoing extra-familial  relationship between two adults who are sharing a residence, over the age of 19, emotionally  interdependent, intend to reside together indefinitely, and meet the specified requirements for  domestic partnership (e.g., financial dependency, long-term residence, etc.), and

WHEREAS currently 62% of the top 50 universities, as defined by U.S. News and World  Report, now provide some type of domestic partner benefits to ensure their faculty and staff  are guaranteed equal rights regardless of their sexual orientation, and
 
WHEREAS UNL currently does not offer employment benefits for the domestic partners of  faculty, staff and graduate students, and

WHEREAS the University Health Center does not offer a student policy with a domestic  partner option, and

WHEREAS inequitable compensation thereby creates an unwelcoming campus environment  for certain faculty, staff and students while violating our own nondiscrimination policy, and

WHEREAS the loss and/or deterrence of faculty, staff and students from UNL directly affects  the quality of education at UNL, and

WHEREAS any action or policy that affects the quality of education at the University is a  direct concern to the student body and ASUN,

THEREFORE BE IT ENACTED that the Association of Students of the University of  Nebraska (ASUN) requests the University of Nebraska system to adopt a definition of  domestic partnerships and ASUN further supports extension of benefits under this definition  for UNL faculty, staff  and students in order to ensure equal opportunity and quality  education.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that the ASUN Human Rights Committee  coordinate with the ASUN Sexual Orientation Advisory Council to meet with the appropriate  University officials and report back to the Senate no later than March 8, 2000.

SUBMITTED BY Senator Hoover DATE 2-14-00

COMMITTEE ACTION Human Rights Committee DATE 2-16-00

FLOOR ACTION Passes roll call vote, 24-2-2

Winter 2000, February 24

Lincoln Journal Star report by Kevin Abourezk on ASUN's passage of Bill 21 endorsing domestic partner benefits, included the following:

   It would likely take a state or federal change in policy to convince the universitywide Benefits Committee to approve benefits for same-sex partners, said Joseph Rowson, associate to UNL President L. Dennis Smith.

   "They've said they would table it pending changes in statewide law," Rowson said.
 
Winter 2000, February 25

In response to an e-mail message from George Wolf regarding the Journal Star of February 24,  Joseph P. Rowson, Assistant Vice President & Director of Communications, Central Administration, wrote:

My statement was intended to reflect the position taken by our university-wide benefits  committee. I did mention to the reporter that discussions of domestic partner coverages have  never been restricted to same-sex relationships. Our committee has assumed that other types  of relationships would have to be included.

Another point I made to the reporter?but

which went unreported?is that we are currently  before the Legislature requesting a minimum of $3 million for the current fiscal year and $3  million for next fiscal year to keep our health care trust fund from going bankrupt. We know  we will have to ask for additional funding in future years just to keep up with our current plan.
Health care costs are soaring. Therefore, as I told the reporter, any new benefits that would  add to the financial obligation of the university are likely to meet considerable resistance.

Winter 2000, March 7

The following Resolution is distributed at the March meeting of UNL's Academic Senate for debate and vote on April 4:

 Senate Resolution in Support of Extending University Benefits to Same-Sex
 Domestic Partners

Whereas the Academic Senate first voted on April 2, 1996 to support the UNL Benefits   Committee's recommendation that the University-Wide benefits committee consider    extending health benefits to Domestic Partners, passing a motion to "support the employee benefits committee for the endorsement in concept of extending insurance benefits to domestic partners and to recommend that the university-wide benefits committee further develop this concept"; and

Whereas the Academic Senate forwarded to the University-Wide Benefits Committee a motion approved on April 6, 1999 to request that the committee again place the issue of Domestic Partner benefits on their agenda; and

Whereas University officials have expressed through their Strategic Frameworks Document  (Last Updated on February 7, 2000) that a goal for the University is to become one of the "top 30 public universities in support from all sources for research"; and

Whereas the University must, in order to attract and retain the high caliber scholars necessary  for  achieving this goal, be able to provide comparable Domestic Partner benefits to prospective faculty members in a competitive marketplace that has a growing number of top institutions providing domestic partner benefits; and

Whereas the University's policy governing equal employment opportunities states that "The  University of Nebraska makes all decisions regarding recruitment, hiring, promotion, and all other terms and conditions of employment without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, marital status, veteran's status or individual characteristics other than qualifications for employment, quality of performance of duties, and conduct related to employment in accord with University policies and rules and applicable law"; and

Whereas "It is the policy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln not to discriminate based on  gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national  or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation"; and

Whereas this body has, on two previous occasions, requested the University-Wide Benefits  Committee to render a decision on the provision of domestic partner benefits for both same-sex and heterosexual couples; and

Whereas policies extending benefits to same-sex domestic partners, calling for appropriate  documentation and verification, have already been adopted at 31 of the nation's top 50 higher education institutions; and

Whereas the members of both the UNL Human Rights Committee and the Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women have recently called upon the Academic Senate to ask the University-Wide Benefits Committee to endorse domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples, pointing out both the pragmatic and ethical justifications for doing so,

Therefore, be it resolved that the members

of the UNL Academic Senate urge the University- Wide Benefits Committee to recommend the extension of employee benefits to the domestic partners of same-sex couples, as a matter of equity and institutional quality; and
 
Therefore be it further resolved, that the University-Wide Benefits Committee be expected  to issue a recommendation on this issue to the NU President within one calendar year.

Winter 2000, March 8

Lincoln Journal Star account of Academic Senate meeting:

UNL GROUP AGAIN PUSHES DOMESTIC-PARTNER BENEFITS
BY KAREN GRIESS, Lincoln Journal Star

   A University of Nebraska-Lincoln group is making another attempt to extend health benefits  to same-sex domestic partners.
 
   UNL's Academic Senate will vote next month on a resolution urging the universitywide  benefits committee to recommend that NU join a growing list of colleges and universities in  offering domestic-partner benefits.

   The resolution, introduced Tuesday by the senate's executive committee, calls it a "matter  of equity and institutional quality." It also asks the universitywide group to issue a  recommendation to NU President L. Dennis Smith within one year.

   There was no discussion Tuesday on the issue. Instead, the full senate will cast its vote April  4.

   Extending benefits to same-sex partners would require action by the NU Board of Regents.  UNL Chancellor James Moeser said he does not believe the board would extend benefits to  same-sex partners.

   "I do not believe it's an issue whose time has come in this state," Moeser said Tuesday  during an interview. "Philosophically, I support what the senate is saying, but politically it's  not the right time for it." The regents reflect public opinion, Moeser said. "If it were a  referendum it would fail." The UNL faculty senate has twice endorsed health benefits for
domestic partners. The universitywide committee benefits committee tabled the issue in 1996  until legal and financial matters were resolved.

   According to the resolution, 31 of the nation's top 50 colleges and universities offer benefits  for same-sex domestic partners.

 
Spring 2000, April 4

UNL's Academic Senate approves resolution of support for same-sex domestic partner benefits by a vote of 26 to 12, with 3 abstentions.

According the Ray Parker's account in the April 5 Lincoln Journal Star:

   The resolution urges the universitywide benefits committee to grant same-sex domestic partners of faculty members the same health and insurance benefits that spouses of heterosexual faculty members receive.

   Any move to extend benefits at UNL will ultimately require action by the Board of Regents.

   UNL Chancellor James Moeser said Tuesday that extending benefits to gay partners was "simple human rights and fairness" and is "the right thing to do."

   However, he aid, his discussions with the Board of Regents suggest members are not politically supportive.  "They are not prepared to make this change," Moeser said.

Summer 2000
Petition drive successfully collects enough signatures to place Amendment 416 on the November Ballot. The amendment reads as follows:
Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship, shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.

Summer 2000, Early August
During a phone conversation about the University-Wide Benefits Committee?s failure to act on the
UNL Academic Senate?s urging that it recommend to the University President and the Board of Regents that they grant spousal benefits, particularly health benefits, to same-sex domestic partners of university employees, Keith Deitz, Director of Benefits and Risk Management, Human Resources, Office of the Vice President for Business & Finance, informed Professor Barbara DiBernard that the University-Wide Benefits Committee was not itself ?a decision-making body.? Recommendations from the Committee are forwarded first to David Lechner, University Vice President for Business and Finance, then to the Human Resources Director, then to collective bargaining agents.
When Professor DiBernard said ?Then this means that any policy that comes from the University-Wide Benefits Committee, even if it is deemed to be an ?employee interest? that should be met, can be overturned on this administrative level,? Director Dietz said yes.

Summer 2000, August 21
UNL?s student health plan, which includes medical benefits for a student?s domestic partner as an option, goes into effect.

May 3, 2000 - Pat Tetreault sends correspondence to the Employee Liaison Committee of UAAD as she is unable to attend the last meeting.

"I believe that UAAD needs to take a more proactive approach to advocating for staff. Currently, UAAD attends faculty senate meetings and has representatives appointed to represent staff on various committees. I think it would be helpful for these representatives to report back to the UAAD membership on the issues and topics that are being discussed and make public statements that either support or address the various issues on behalf of staff and UAAD's membership. One example is the issue of Domestic Partner benefits for faculty and staff. Although the faculty senate, their human rights committee, and ASUN have all taken public stands for domestic partner benefits, UAAD has remained silent on this issue. I believe that UAAD should take a public stand supporting the resolutions passed by ASUN and the Academic Senate and indicate their support for GLB staff, faculty and students by supporing equitable compensation. Other issues that are important concerns that continually resurface for staff at UNL are the issues of visibility, promotion and advancement opportunities, more flexibility in working arrangements, and depending on the unit that one works in, management / supervisory and equity issues. I think the downsizing of the university and parking concerns are primary concerns also. I realize there is a parking committee but they have withheld support of the university plans because they do not want to sanction any of the plans which are inadequate and which require the employees and students of the university to build structures to accommodate parking needs. An area of discussion that has also been lacking in this area (I know you have all probably heard it before....) is the lack of reasonable alternatives to driving and parking at work. Currently, it takes me 10 minutes to drive to work. If I decided to use the Lincoln bus system, it would take me at minimum, 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to work (one way). In addition, by the time I leave work, there are no buses running. I also use my car and pay for the gas to go to meetings, travel to presentations, etc. which means I also carry materials. Time and convenience are issues related to parking as well as the increasing costs for parking. I think one of the problems is deciding what issues can be dealt with by the ELC and UAAD. If it involves education about a topic, that may be more "do-able" than dealing with some of the other ongoing issues that exist. However, if certain issues were decided upon, brainstorming sessions or other activities could possibly be undertaken to try to generate solutions. I apologize for not being able to attend our last meeting."

Fall 2000, September 21
Daily Nebraskan (September 22, 2000) reports that when candidate for Arts & Sciences Dean William Hoffmann was asked "what he thought about the amendment [416] that, if passed in November, would ban domestic partnerships and civil union in Nebraska," "Hoffmann was surprised that was even an issue but said it wouldn't affect his decision to come here."
"That's a really hard problem," he said.  "I think the university has to be welcoming and open  to that."
University employees are not eligible to received health-care benefits for their domestic  partners, despite efforts by faculty members to change that.
Hoffmann said that was odd.
"I'm surprised a university in this day and age doesn't have those kind of benefits," he said.

Fall 2000, September 27
ASUN passes Bill 7, reaffirming support for domestic partner benefits for students, faculty, and staff, by a vote of 26 for, 0 against, and 2 abstentions.

Fall 2000, October 10

The October 11 Lincoln Journal Star reports that in response to a question at the October 10 meeting of UNL's Academic Senate about the potential effects of Initiative 416 on the university, Interim Chancellor Harvey Perlman notes that "the November 7 ballot issue already has been raised by at least one potential candidate for a top UNL job" and goes on to say:

Whatever the intentions of its promoters, it will be viewed as an act of bigotry and intolerance  by the rest of the world, and that cannot help the state of Nebraska.

Fall 2000, November 7

Initiative 416 carries the state:  For 70%;  Against: 30%.

Fall 2000, November 9

According to reporter Veronica Daehn (November 10), "University General Counsel Dick Wood told the Daily Nebraskan...that Initiative 416 would not affect the university's offering domestic-partner benefits."

In the same DN article, Interim Chancellor Harvey Perlman says the passage of Initiative 416 "will be viewed by some people as Nebraska not being an open, welcoming state."

The initiative won't have an immediate, direct effect, Perlman said.  But it will have long-term impact.

"I don't expect we'll stop hiring," he said.  "But there's a likelihood that some individuals who would have applied here may now not apply here."

 Part V

Winter 2001, February 5

February, 2001 - After tuition remission benefits were provided to eligible UNL employees, a letter was sent to Duane Mohlman, then President of UAAD, in February 2001 expressing disappointment that UAAD choose not to support tuition remission benefits for all employees regardless of marital status and sexual orientation. Mr. Mohlman did not respond to the letter.

2/13/01

Dear Duane, On behalf of myself and the Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns, I am writing to express concern and disappointment with UAAD's support of extending tuition remission benefits that will only benefit some employees. Despite UNL's non-discrimination policy (which states in part) that UNL does not (sic) discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status, most of the benefits available to married heterosexuals are not available to individuals with domestic partners. This inequity has been a concern and issue for many staff and faculty for a number of years (for a history of Domestic Partner Benefits check out the Committee on GLBT Concerns website at: http://www.unl.edu/cglbtc/).
There are a number of faculty, staff and students who are quite upset at UNL's lack of concern for increasing and further entrenching the inequity in benefits and compensation based on marital status and sexual orientation. Results of the prior employee survey conducted by Human Resources in 1991, 12% of the respondents indicated that domestic partner benefits were one of their/our top 5 concerns. While we believe it is in the university's benefit to increase benefits to ALL employees and their families, we do not believe that increasing benefits that only benefit some employees is in the univeristy's or its employees best interest. By supporting inequity in compensation and benefits, UAAD is supporting a discriminatory policy that clearly sends the message to some of its employees, that we and our families are not as valuable as other employees and the families that the government chooses to recognize. As a member of UAAD and the co-chair of the Committee on GLBT Concerns, I believe that UAAD should support benefits and compensation that will truly benefit ALL staff and faculty. The university and UAAD should support policies and benefits that are in accordance with the non-discriminatory policy in both words and deed. Sincerely, Pat Tetreault Co-Chair, Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender

UNL faculty and staff receive the following e-mail message from NU President L. Dennis Smith:

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I want to share a development with you that, if approved, will positively impact all full-time   University employees.  As you know, full-time employees are entitled to make use of 15 credit hours per year at a cost of $1 per credit hour.  I want to expand this program to allow full-time employees to transfer the use of these hours to a spouse or dependent child.  Two bargaining units recently agreed to such a proposal on two of the campuses and I propose to extend this to all full-time University employees.

This is a benefit that I believe has several advantages to both the University and the State.

- First, it provides a valuable benefit to many employees and their families, particularly those  with college age children.  At the stage in their University careers where their talent and experience is most valuable to the University, these employees are the most attractive to other employers.  We want to retain our high quality faculty and talented staff.
-It will enhance recruitment of faculty and staff.  A clear majority of our peers offer this benefit.  To compete at all levels and continue to attract high quality faculty and talented staff, we believe this benefit is of vital importance.
 
-It will be a strong student recruitment tool.  As you are aware, the Governor has been very positive in his support of the University.  In this regard, he and I share a common goal - to use every effort to attract and retain Nebraska's best and brightest.  Every student we retain helps make Nebraska stronger.  I believe this is an excellent step in meeting that goal.

The University-wide Benefits Committee has been very supportive of this concept.  The proposal is intended to be discussed by the appropriate campus constituencies.  Very shortly, the proposal will be taken to the Board of Regents to gain their endorsement.

As soon as the details of the proposal are worked out, I will communicate these to you.

Thank you for all you do for the University of Nebraska.

2001 - 2002 - UAAD conducts an employee survey in which 32% of the respondents indicate that providing domestic partner benefits would enhance the climate at the University. To see the report, http://uaad.unl.edu

Winter 2001, February 7

In response to an e-mail to President Smith pointing out that his proposed Tuition Remission Policy, by excluding the domestic partners of employees, does not "positively impact all full-time University employees," Professor Barbara DiBernard (English & Women's Studies) receives the following message from Ed Wimes, Director, Human Resources, University of Nebraska Central Administration:

Thank you for sharing your concerns with President Smith, regarding the proposed Tuition Remission Transfer Program.  I have been asked to respond to you on behalf of the President. At this time there are no plans to include domestic partners as an eligible recipient of the transfer program.  I believe the overall benefits of the program will assist the University in retaining our excellent employees and provide an academic opportunity for their family members.

Winter 2001, February 8

Martha Stoddard in the Lincoln Journal Star, reporting on President Smith's Tuition Remission Transfer Program, writes:

   But not all university employees were happy.

   UNL English Professor Barbara DiBernard said the policy would not help gay and lesbian faculty or staff.  Their same-sex partners would not be eligible for tuition breaks under Smith's proposal, meaning gay and lesbian faculty would not have the same incentives to take jobs and stay at the university.

   "The reasons Smith gave (for the proposal) all contradict the fact that we're not included," she said.  "It just seems particularly hurtful to say 'We're going to give a new benefit and you're not included.'"
 
   DiBernard said she and others lave started a letter-writing campaign and may undertake other efforts seeking inclusion.

   Ed Wimes, director of human resources for the university, said there are no plans to change the proposal.  He said he could not address the reasons for limiting the tuition breaks to spouses.

   "That's just the decision that's been made," he said.

Winter 2001, February 9

Writing for the Daily Nebraskan, Kimberly Sweet reports that

Joe Rowson, assistant to the president and NU spokesman, said it was unlikely domestic partners would be included [in the tuition remission policy].  He said it would be the first step to awarding domestic partners full benefits - something that would go against the position of the state.

"In Nebraska, the prevailing public policy is that benefits are not provided for same-sex couples," Rowson said.

This case won't be handled any differently, he said.

Winter 2001, February 11

In response to a request from Prof. George Wolf (English & Center for Great Plains Studies) that he  reconcile his statement quoted in the February 9 Daily Nebraskan with University General Counsel  Dick Wood's DN statement of November 9 (see above), Joe Rowson wrote:

Employee benefits at the University of Nebraska are provided to the employee and to his or her spouse and/or dependent children, in accordance with the options selected within the various plans.  The benefits are not provided to domestic partners.  That was true before Amendment 416 and it is true in the Amendment 416 era.  I assume Dick Wood was pointing out that the vote to adopt Amendment 416 has not changed the way university employee benefits are administered.  The specific benefit in question?reduced tuition charges for employees, spouses, and dependent children?will, to my knowledge, not be administered differently from other employee benefits.

Winter 2001, February 21

As President of UNL's Academic Senate, Prof. Sheila Scheideler (Animal Science), addresses the following letter to President L. D. Smith:

The Academic Senate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln would like to thank you for your recent letter supporting the transfer of a full-time employee's tuition remission benefit to their dependents and spouses.  This could be a real boost to faculty morale and benefits.

The Academic Senate Executive Committee would like to remind you of our support of extending benefits to domestic partners.  Our support was written in resolution form and approved by the Academic Senate on April 2, 1996, April 6, 1999, and April 4, 2000 [Resolutions attached].  We feel strongly that it is important to support all faculty and staff with our benefits policies and urge you to consider this as the tuition remission policy is put forward.

Winter 2001, February 21

In response to a letter from Professor George Wolf to President Smith criticizing the exclusion of employees' domestic partners from the tuition remission policy, Ed Wimes, Director of Human Resources, writes the following:

President Smith has asked that I respond to your concerns and your request for modification of the Tuition Remission Transfer program.  The proposed program will provide excellent academic opportunities for many family members of our full-time staff.  However, the program will not apply to individuals who are deemed as partners either in a same sex or opposite sex relationship.  The proposed program will allow for the participation of dependent children, including legally adopted and stepchildren, of any of our full-time staff members.

I am aware that the decision to not include partners of our faculty and staff in this program has not received favorable endorsement of our University community.  However, that is the decision that has been made at this time.  Thank you for sharing your concerns, and I wish you continued success.

In response to a letter from Prof. Wolf requesting the name of the person or group responsible for the decision-making shrouded in the passive voice of the letter's penultimate sentence, Ed Wimes responded on March 6:

The inclusion of our employees' non-legally recognized partners have [sic] never been participants in our benefits programs.  The proposed Tuition Remission Transfer program is in line with the existing policy, and therefore, will not deviate from this practice.

Winter 2001, March 6

UNL's Academic Senate passes an emergency resolution, introduced by Prof. John Wunder  (History) on behalf of the UNL Faculty Women's Caucus.  The following is reporter Lindsay Baker's account in the March 7 Daily Nebraskan:

The Academic Senate placed a resolution to cover birth control measures, along with providing employee benefits to same-sex couples, on emergency status at its Tuesday meeting.

University insurance policies currently do not cover birth control?something the senate wants to change.

John Wunder, a history professor at UNL, representing the Faculty Women's Caucus, presented the resolution, saying the university's failure to pay for birth-control measures violated federal law.

He said the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled failure to provide insurance coverage for birth control breaches the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.

In the same resolution, the faculty senate asked University of Nebraska President Dennis Smith to extend university employee benefits to domestic partners in same-sex relationships, a proposal Wunder said the senate had approved twice.

Wunder said though the resolution dealt with two different things, they're tied together by a common bond?discrimination.

UNL's Academic Senate needs to discuss discrimination in higher learning institutions, he said.

"There's been way too little action in this," he said.

The resolution calls for University of Nebraska President Dennis Smith to add birth control to faculty members' insurance plans and to approve domestic-partner benefits or stop claiming the university doesn't discriminate in official statements.

The university's nondiscrimination policy says NU won't discriminate against a list of groups, including women, gays and lesbians.
 
If the university isn't going to put its money where its mouth is, Wunder and the Academic Senate resolution contends it should stop touting anti-discriminatory statements.

"We want them to live by their pledges," Wunder said.

Winter 2001, March 7

Transcript of KETV 10 pm News Broadcast:

A fight...between University of Nebraska Professors and the Board of Regents....
The professors want domestic partner benefits for faculty and staff...the University says they can't provide it...professors want to know why.  KETV Newswatch Seven's Trisha Meuret investigates.

TM:  Studying Organic Chem is tough...and expensive...

But the families of NU staff could get a break on their tuition soon...

A proposal in front of the Board of Regents would let professors' families take classes for a  dollar a credit hour...

But it's the definition of family that gets the university in a bind.

Barbara DiBernard:  "I feel I've been kicked in the stomach?it's very hurtful."

TM:  Barbara DiBernard teaches Women's Literature...she's also gay.

Her partner won't be able to take advantage of the tuition break...or get coverage from  Barbara's health care.

Joe Rowson:  "This is just a public policy issue."

TM:  The University's Director of Communications says state law keeps the university from giving domestic partner benefits....

Rowson:  "There are long-standing public policies in place in Nebraska that define relationships and who's eligible for certain benefits."

TM:  UNL's Academic Senate has taken a stand...they say unless everybody gets the benefits, the university needs to take out their anti-discrimination policy they include in every publication.

>DiBernard:  "We need truth in advertising here."

TM:  The policy specifies...the University will not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation...

DiBernard says that's just what NU is doing...giving increased benefits to straight faculty and staff...and none to her.

Spring 2001 - UAAD conducts a m/p employee survey. The results indicated that 32% of the respondents believe offering domestic partner benefits would enhance the work environment. Even though 32% of the respondents to the most recent UAAD survey indicated that domestic partner benefits would enhance the work environment, this support was not "enough" for the UAAD Board to sign the letter of support that was sent to President Smith. In a letter to the UAAD Board in March 2002, Pat Tetreault invited the board to look at the numbers supporting other issues and noted that many do not meet the majority criteria (the document and tables can be found at http://uaad.unl.edu/. (This information did not appear in the write up of the survey but does appear in the tables.) Domestic partner benefits did not appear in the table from Hewitt Associates which listed priorities for benefit improvements. May 21, 2001 - Pat Tetreault responds to an email from Cindy Bell, UAAD ELC Chair. Cindy Bell has indicated that a vote of the membership would be required for UAAD to support domestic partner benefits for sexual minority and unmarried staff. Pat Tetreault's email in response indicates that requiring a vote from the UAAD membership with the majority approving support for domestic partner benefits is prejudicial and discriminatory on the face of it because UAAD has never taken or required a vote with majority approval to support other areas of concern to managerial / professional staff. It is also noted that not supporting equitable compensation for all m/p staff is not in accordance with the university non-discrimination policy.

Spring 2001, April 4

ASUN, by a vote of 16-2, for the third year passes a bill recommending that the Board of Regents provide domestic partner benefits in its benefits package for faculty and staff.  The bill particularly recommends that the Regents include domestic partners in its upcoming vote on an amendment to extend its current Tuition Remission Policy to the spouses and dependent children of university faculty and staff.

Spring 2001, April 7

UNLAcademic Senate President Scheideler, UNO Faculty Senate President Doug Paterson, UNO Faculty Senate President-Elect Wally Bacon, Assistant to the UNL Chancellor for Equity, Access, and Diversity Programs Linda Crump, as well as university faculty, students, and staff testify at the Board of Regents meeting in Lincoln in favor of the Board's including domestic partners in the amendment before it to extend its current Tuition Remission Policy to the spouses and dependent children of university faculty and staff.   By a vote of 8-0, the Regents approve the admendment, without including domestic partners.

The Regents also direct University President L. Dennis Smith to undertake a study of the feasibility of offering domestic partner benefits.

Spring 2001, Mid-May

Ed Wimes, NU's Director of Human Resources, forms a Domestic Partners Study Group, composed of himself, Gary Beck (UNMC), Joseph Price (UNO), Phyllis Harris (UNK), and Patricia Tetreault
(UNL), charged with studying and issuing a report on the feasibility of NU offering domestic partner benefits.  The Group has met on May 25th, June 14th, and July 31st.

Summer 2001, July 27

Richard L. Fleming, President of the UNL Emeriti Association, informs Chancellor Perlman, President Smith, and the members of the Board of Regents that the Emeriti Association has passed the following motion:

   The UNL Emeriti Association President be directed to write a letter on behalf of the Association to the UNL Chancellor, the NU President and the Board of Regents which (1.) indicated that current NU policy and procedures regarding domestic partner benefits presents the UNL Emeriti Association from fulfilling the will of its members to provide assistance to Emeriti and partners through the [Maude] Wisherd Fund; and (2.) encourage the Board of Regents to change the benefits policy regarding domestic partner benefits so that it is consistent with the University's non-discrimination policy and provides for equity and social justice.

Spring 2002 - the Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women approached UAAD to sign a joint letter of support to be sent to President Smith in support of Domestic Partner Benefits. The letter was sent following the submission of the University-wide study group report on domestic partner benefits (that was requested by the Board of Regents) was provided to the Board of Regents in December, 2001. The letter to President Smith was signed by the Chairs of the Chancellor's Commission on the Status of Women, the Chancellor's Commission on the Status of People of Color, the Human Rights Commission and the Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns. Jim Main, UAAD Board President originally agreed to sign the letter but withdrew his support and signature after the UAAD Board chastised him for doing so (Board members for 2001 - 2002 were James Main, President; Julie Hagemeier, Vice-President/President-elect; Vicki Fisher, Secretary; Michael Carlson, Treasurer. Other officers and representatives to other committees can be found at: http://uaad.unl.edu/officers.html. In addition, the UAAD board wanted the data from the UAAD survey deleted from the letter. However, this information is posted on the UAAD web site and is not confidential information so UAAD was removed from the letter and the survey information was left in the letter.

NOTES about UAAD History: Please note that the issue of domestic partner benefits has been brought up repeatedly since 1995 without a positive response from the organization. UAAD has supported the extension of other benefits such as tuition remission without endorsing that they be extended inclusively to all staff regardless of marital status or sexual orientation thereby further extending and entrenching the inequity in compensation that already exists. In addition, UAAD has been approached at two separate times in the past about providing a representative to the Committee on GLBT Concerns and has refused to do so. UNOPA (University of NE Office Personnel Association) also declined the request to sign the letter of support, indicating that they did not think it impacted office service personnel (that it was a faculty issue). A letter of response was sent which included an offer to provide information to UNOPA with no subsequent response from the UNOPA Board. The question was also posed in the Spring 2002 by Pat Tetreault to the ELC whether UAAD would now poll the UAAD membership on every issue that comes before the UAAD board prior to taking a stand. The possibility was raised that the by-laws would then be changed so the board would be able to avoid having to do so in future situations. The point was made that if a majority voted not to support domestic partner benefits, UAAD would be on record as not supporting equitable treatment of sexual minority staff and would be taking a stand in contradiction of the non-discrimination policy. The ELC decided to recommend having an educational session mid-May (2002) about domestic partner benefits for the membership and then decide about the vote. Pat Tetreault agreed to put a panel together for an informational meeting for UAAD and m/p staff. However, this meeting has not yet been scheduled.

In April 2003, UAAD and UNOPA held a joint panel discussion to inform members about the issue of domestic partner benefits. This panel discussion was videotaped and is now available for viewing. The tape can be checked out by contacting Kathy Notter at 472-5560 or email: knotter2@unl.edu.

Update (February 2014): Work continued to obtain domestic partner/Employee + 1 benefits at UNL with the assistance of students, including Emily Schlichting (who received the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Contributions to the GLBT Community) and the Committee on GLBT Concerns. In 2012, the Board of Regents voted to approve benefits for unmarried committed couples at UNL (for same and mixed sex/gender couples). The benefits were available as of January 2013. We applaud this progress toward more equitable benefits. However, we will continue to work for more equitable compensation and benefits as the criteria for approval include providing documentation that a couple has been together for a year, live together and share finances. Legally married same sex couples (from other states) are not recognized in Nebraska so a marriage certificate does not fit the criteria. The difference in criteria for recognizing couples, as well as the increased tax burden (since these benefits are taxed while they are not taxed for couples whose marriages are recognized) indicate the need for additional work to achieve equitable compensation.

Prepared by George E. Wolf
Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Concerns
c/o Department of English
313 Andrews Hall
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0333

UAAD History Provdided by Pat Tetreault
Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Concerns
c/o University Health Center
15th and U Streets
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0618
ptetreault1@unl.edu

Prepared December 1998
Revised December 1999
Revised March 2000
Revised April 2000
Revised October 2000
Revised March 2001
Revised October 2001
UAAD History Inserted September 2002
UAAD History Updtaed November 2003

February 2014 Update provided by Pat Tetreault, LGBTQA+ Resource Center Director and Assistant Director in Student Involvement for LGBTQA Programs & Services, 346 Nebraska Union (0453).

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