Stanford University to Offer Domestic Partner Benefits
Stanford University this week became one of the only schools in the country to extend health insurance and other benefits to same-sex domestic partners of university employees.
Harvard is currently considering the issue of providing benefits to domestic partners, and the city of Cambridge recently became one of a handful of cities to institute such a benefits program for employees.
Stanford's plan, approved by President Gerhard Casper and the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, will go into effect February l.
"Stanford feels it should not treat differently its gay and lesbian employees who cannot obtain a legal sanction of their enduring partnership, though their commitment to the partnership is analogous to that involved in contemporary marriage relationships," Barbara Butterfield, Stanford's vice president for faculty and staff services, said in a statement.
The decision was taken "after deep-searching, thorough and wide-open discussion," she said. Stanford officials began discussing the issue in the spring of 1991.
At Harvard, President Neil L. Rudenstine this fall formed a University-wide committee, chaired by Provost Jerry R. Green, to discuss extending benefits to the domestic partners of employees. The Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers has demanded benefits for domestic partners, but University officials, calling the question "a very complicated issue," have made no promises.
Stanford defines "domestic partners" as "two individuals in an enduring relationship with exclusive mutual commitment and financial responsibilities analogous to those of marriage."
Besides health insurance, the benefits being extended to domestic partners include survivors' benefits, library privileges, and the right to audit courses at the university, according to a Stanford press release. The school will not extend health or other benefits to opposite-sex unmarried partners.
Stanford will pay 75 percent of the costs of health insurance for domestic partners, as it does now for spouses, The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday. The university's statement estimated the annual cost to the school at $100,000 out of a $24 million health care budget.
The University of Iowa became the first college to offer health benefits to domestic partners earlier this year, according to the Chronicle.
Besides Harvard, other universities currently considering extending such benefits include Duke University, the University of California system and the University of Pennsylvania, the Chronicle reported.