Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Even Wilder about the 'Cats

I'm an unabashed U of A Wildcats fan, but today I'm even prouder of my Alma Mater: they just extended tuition breaks to same-sex domestic partners of university employees. Children of the employee's domestic partner will also get the tuition break. This is the same benefit spouses, children, and stepchildren of university employees already receive and is a huge step towards fair treatment for same-sex families.

While the new policy won't cover health-care benefits, like those offered by Pima Community College, Pima County and the city of Tucson, it's a step in the right direction, say UA employees who have been pushing for domestic-partner benefits.

The U of A cannot institute health-care benefits without approval from the legislature, which isn't likely, not with its current ultra-conservative majority. So they did what they could do and I'm pleased.

There's an extra benefit beyond fairness to GLBT employees and their partners and children, too.

"The exclusion of same-sex domestic partners from this program is detrimental to the university's ability to attract and retain the most qualified employees without regard to their household arrangements, and is inequitable to employees who cannot marry their domestic partners," according to the university announcement.

"Implementing this program will bring UA more in line with its peer institutions and local market competitors. By offering tuition reduction, the UA will be more capable of competing with employers that offer either health-care coverage, tuition reduction or some combination of both to employees' domestic partners. As it stands, the UA is in the distinct minority," [University of Arizona President Peter] Likins wrote.

Interesting. What's good for families is also good for the university. Shocking!

The problem is, this will likely be illegal if the "marriage protection" amendment passes in 2006. The U of A is a "political subdivision" of the state of Arizona and will not be allowed to "recognize" any "legal status for unmarried persons...that is similar to that of marriage." So if the amendment passes, we're back to being in the "distinct minority" of universities who cannot "attract and retain the most qualified employees." Yet another reason the amendment is a bad idea.


At 9:52 AM, Blogger Jess said...

Len Munsil must be steamed about the all-positive tone of that AZ Daily Star article. I think that any "inroads" for LGBT couples/families are a step toward beating the amendment that would write homophobia into the Arizona constitution. "This affects peoples' lives, this affects our community negatively, this amendment takes away rights and benefits and securtity for families." Sounds like a decent mantra.
Anyhow, even the most culturally conservative Arizonans don't want to imitate backward states, right? The ones that couldn't deal with evolution, so they outlawed teaching it, or the states that fought so hard against integration and the Voting Rights Act of 1964?
It's good that the U of A is fighting to keep Tucson and Arizona ahead of the curve. --adam


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