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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - "Some IU employees seek to retain domestic-partner benefits"

The South Bend Tribune has an interesting story reported by Margaret Fosmoe about Indiana University's plan to stop offering domestic-partner health care policies to unmarried same-sex couples, now that such marriages are legal. A few quotes:

The South Bend women are among 22 same-sex IU employees facing the same decision: Get married by the end of this month or one’s partner will lose university health care coverage.

In 2002, long before same-sex marriage became the law of the land, IU started offering domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian employees. Everyone who applied for the benefit was required to sign an affidavit saying he or she was in a relationship equivalent to a marriage and would marry if the opportunity was available.

The rationale was, those workers weren’t legally able to marry, but they should be entitled to the same benefits for their partners as married heterosexual IU employees.

At its highest point, IU had about 250 registered domestic partners enrolled in university medical plans, according to Margie Smith-Simmons, an IU spokeswoman.

After the June 2015 nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, that number dropped to 22 as marriage certificates were submitted, Smith-Simmons said. These remaining domestic partners were removed by employees during open enrollment this year following a 14-month transition period.

IU’s human resources department has said it will continue to explore employee requests for IU to expand health care coverage to all same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners in the future. The university will compare IU benefits to those of peer institutions, and weigh the financial impact of extending coverage.

IU has never offered domestic partner health benefits to unmarried heterosexual employee couples. * * *

While same-sex marriage is legal, that doesn’t mean same-sex couples in Indiana are safe from discrimination based on sexual orientation, some advocates point out. Indiana law permits an employer to fire a worker based on his or her sexual orientation or a property owner to refuse to rent or sell to an individual or couple based on sexual orientation. * * *

The Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage only provided one part of the solution to challenges facing same-sex couples, Smith said, noting Indiana’s lack of legal protection in the workplace and housing based on sexual orientation.

“In South Bend, we have leaders like Mayor Pete Buttigieg and many others who are helping create a new sense of community that is widely inclusive, safe and creates opportunities for prosperity,” he said. “Part of that is for all of us to have a rewarding personal life where we feel secure.”

“I really don’t think the university thought this through very much,” Lucal said. “They assumed ‘marriage equality’ meant they didn’t have to think about this anymore.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 28, 2016 09:20 AM
Posted to Indiana Government