Domestic Partners Get Married Suite in Quincy

A lesbian "domestic partnership" couple will occupy a married tutor suite in the College for the first time next year.

The Quincy House appointment "has been a heated issue in Quincy House for the past month or so," according to House Committee Chair and Tutor Selection Committee member Marina C. Volanakis '94.

Robin Wagner and Margie Chebotariov, who recently obtained the domestic partnership, were selected to serve as Quincy tutors for the coming year last Wednesday. Wagner has been a Quincy House resident tutor in East Asian Studies for the past three years.

Last November, the city of Cambridge enacted the Domestic Partnership Ordinance, which gave same-sex couples the opportunity to register as domestic partners--gaining legal protection similar to that of married couples.

Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 said he does not think that this is the first time a same-sex couple has lived in a House's married tutor suite. "I think there's at least one prior situation," Jewett said.

"The thing that's new is the status as domestic partners," Jewett said.

Faced with Wagner and Chebotariov's application, Quincy House officials devised a new set of guidelines for their tutor selection process.

In the past, changes in a current tutor's status were dealt with "on an ad-hoc basis," said Wagner, who used to be a member of the 4-student, 5-tutor selection committee.

The new policy includes a clause stating Quincy House's "commitment to diversity in its search for resident tutors" and its selection of candidates, "regardless of sexual orientation, whether married or in domestic partnership."

"When there's a set, written-out policy, that makes for the assurance that everyone will be treated the same in the future," Wagner said.

"We were aware that this was a new situation--we wanted to be sure we were sensitive to all the issues involved," Quincy House Master Michael Shinagel said.

Wagner said she and Chebotariov find the new policy "very exciting."

"Houses have had single gay, lesbian, and bisexual tutors," said Chebotariov. "But we see out role as important because gay and lesbian couples get a bad rap as far as staying together and being role models," she said.

Wagner said that students in the house have reacted favorably to Quincy's decision to appoint her and Chebotariov as tutors.

"Students have given wonderful support--I've heard overwhelmingly positive responses," Wagner said