Domestic partners benefits approved

September 27, 2000

Nick Marinello

The Tulane Board, in its Sept. 21 meeting, passed a resolution extending fringe benefits to same-sex domestic partners of university employees. The resolution, which was approved by a 152 vote, will make available to same-sex domestic partners health, life and dental insurance, tuition waivers, athletic and library privileges and bereavement and family and medical leaves. Benefits also may be available to such partners' children, depending on their IRS status.

Yvette Jones, senior vice president for planning and administration, said she hoped the university would be able to make benefits available by Jan. 1, 2001, and guaranteed they would be in place by no later than July 1, 2001.

Jones said that the new benefits program would result in a "minimal" cost to the university and that policy premiums would not be affected. A document prepared for the board estimates the cost of adding health benefits for same-sex domestic partners could be in the range of $50,000 to $105,000 in additional claims. Dental, life and accidental dismemberment insurance plans are voluntary coverage paid by employees and would not affect the university's budget.

The cost of additional undergraduate tuition waivers is estimated to be no more than approximately $50,000. According to Jones, domestic partners will be required to sign an affidavit certifying their relationship and also will need to certify they have shared a principal residence for the prior six months.

Tulane is one of only two private universities in the American Association of Universities that currently does not have such a benefit plan in place. There are 22 private schools with AAU affiliation.

"This has been an issue of debate on this campus since 1993," said Jones. "From the standpoint of recruiting and retaining faculty and staff, this is an important benefit to provide."

Jones added that the board's passage of the resolution was consistent with Tulane's strategic plan, which advocates more "progressive and creative" benefit packages as well as a standardization of benefits among all employees.

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