Ricky Roberts, an LGBT activist in Athens, Ga., and employee of the University of Georgia, is calling on local and state LGBT rights advocates to sign a petition calling for the university to offer domestic partner benefits to its gay and lesbian employees.

UGA began offering “soft” benefits to gay and lesbian employees back in May but fell short of offering many of the benefits, like health insurance, that advocates hoped.

Since then, a new school president has taken the helm at UGA and is not in favor of expanding domestic partner benefits, according to Roberts.

UGA domestic partner benefits again on the hotseat

Speaking on a local AM radio stations in Athens, new UGA President Jere Morehead said last week that the university has gone as far as it can, given the state’s refusal to allow state funds to be spent on coverage for domestic partners. Morehead basically put the issue to bed, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constition’s Jim Galloway.

“But candidly, with the restrictions that the state has on its health insurance plans, I think we’ve gone about as far as we can go on that issue here at the University of Georgia. I don’t see a path readily available for the institution to pursue that matter here,” Morehead said.

Still, the pressure is on Morehead and other leaders at UGA to expand benefits. Roberts and others hope their petition will do just that.

From the petition webpage:

Peace family,

While serving as chair for GLOBES at the University of Georgia, I drafted the original proposal that called for a non-state funded domestic partner benefits program. If implemented, the program will create equal benefits for all eligible employees who have registered domestic partners.

The proposal was approved by the UGA Human Resources Committee, the UGA Executive Committee and the University Council.

Former UGA President, Dr. Michael Adams authorized a portion of the proposal before leaving the university. However, he failed to authorize the full program. His successor President Jere Morehead and the UGA Foundation have announced that they will not help pursue a fully funded program.

Members of the UGA community have been trying to get domestic partners benefits passed for over 10 years. This is not only an equal pay for equal work issue but implementing the program would send a message that our University truly believes in real diversity that only equality brings.

Our comparator peer institutions such as the University of Florida and the University of Arizona offer equal benefits to employees with domestic partners. These schools have proven that, when there is an institutional commitment, these benefits CAN be offered at schools located in states that bar the use of state dollars for this purpose.

With the recent Supreme Court rulings, people in Georgia are more enthusiastic about the pursuit of equality than ever before.

There is an opportunity for UGA to lead the way in making sure that all employees are treated equally and fairly.

I am asking for your help to put UGA on a course to make history yet again. When UGA desegregated in 1961 other institutions in Georgia and throughout the Deep South followed the leader.

Please implore UGA to once again end discrimination on our campus.

Please show your support for a non-state funded domestic partner benefits program at the University of Georgia by signing this petition.

Thank you for your help,

Ms. Ricky Roberts, MSW
UGA Staff Member

The petition has just over 2,500 at the time of this post. The current goal is set for 3,000 and that will likely be surpassed soon.


Top photo: Former University of Georgia President Michael Adams said offering additional domestic partner benefits would require ‘additional study’ in May (via uga.edu)