The executive committee of the University of Georgia’s University Council has voted to approve the wording of a resolution asking President Michael Adams to implement domestic partnership benefits for university faculty and staff.

The proposal, approved by the committee Sept. 13, asks for a “benefits package for eligible employees with domestic partners that matches the benefits and premiums that are currently being granted to employees with spouses.”

UGA committee approves domestic partner benefits; next vote set for Sept. 27

 Janet Frick, chair of the University Council’s Human Resources Committee, responded enthusiastically to the Executive Committee’s vote.

“I am pleased to see the strong support expressed today by those on the University Council Executive Committee in favor of full benefits equality at UGA,” Frick said in a statement emailed to the GA Voice on Thursday.  

“The proposal brought forward by the UGA GLOBES organization is strong, rational, and well-reasoned. We hope to have the full support of University Council in two weeks, and then the full support of the UGA administration to implement the policies outlined in this proposal,” she said.

UGA GLOBES is the campus group for LGBT faculty, staff and allies. The proposal was originally approved by the council’s Human Resources Committee on Aug. 28.  The committee calls for benefits for domestic partners to take effect no later than Jan. 1, 2014.

The benefits requested fall into two classes: heath insurance and voluntary benefits.  The voluntary benefits that would be offered under the proposal include dental coverage, supplemental life insurance and accidental death or dismemberment insurance.

The committee’s proposal notes that the voluntary benefits are on a level similar to those offered to domestic partners of employees at Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University, Georgia Perimeter College, and Georgia Health Sciences University.

The proposal also states that 75 percent of UGA’s peer and aspirational institutions already offer benefits similar to those being proposed at UGA.

Faced with the possibility that the statewide University System Board of Regents or the state legislature may take action to oppose UGA’s use of state funds to offer domestic partnership benefits, the proposal cites multiple examples of public universities elsewhere that have used other sources to fund such benefits.

The Universities of Florida, Arizona and Wyoming all have domestic partnership benefits which are funded by sources other than state funds.  University of Florida provides benefits using federal contracts, grants and discretionary funds from the University of Florida Foundation.  

University of Arizona offers special plans not using state funds to provide such benefits for their employees.  University of Wyoming employees are eligible to receive vouchers which match funds provided for opposite-sex spouses.  These vouchers are paid for using external research funding, most of which is federally funded.

The full council will vote on the resolution in a meeting on Sept. 27 at 3:30 p.m. at the Tate Center on the UGA campus.  The council’s role is only advisory, Frick said, but she expressed optimism that Adams would implement the council’s recommendation if the vote passes the full council.

“What we are proposing is not radical or unusual at all,” Frick said.