Daniel Renfrow" />
side bar
Thursday, September 28, 2023


Partnership rights march

Monday’s march to HR brought focus to faculty LGBT partnerships.  | Courtesy LGBT Resource Center

Monday’s march to HR brought focus to faculty LGBT partnerships. | Courtesy LGBT Resource Center

Students and faculty gathered in front of the cougar statues at the Ezekiel W. Cullen building Monday in support of domestic partner benefits.

UH does not currently extend benefits to the partners of employees in same-sex or different-sex domestic partnerships, and the gathering was organized to raise campus awareness of the issue.

“Excellent universities are fair universities,” Maria Gonzalez, associate professor of English, said as she addressed the crowd. “Someday we hope the University will treat us like our straight counterparts.”

The crowd marched from Cullen to the Human Resource office where some of the participants requested domestic partner benefits and were denied. They were then treated to refreshments by the Human Resource Department.

“I thought the event was great,” Joan Nelson, executive director of Human Resources, said. “They need to continue to put a voice to their cause.”

Lorraine Schroeder, program director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center helped organize the action. Schroeder’s partner recently went a year and a half without benefits while she was looking for a job, even though Schroeder works for the University.

“It would have been nice to have put her on my benefits at the time,” Schroeder said. “It’s an unfortunate situation that we’re in. Sometimes people (in domestic partnerships) have to make the decision to leave or not work here because financially it is not the best decision for them.”

James Lee, a political science sophomore and president of LGBT Advocates, agrees that the policy is having a negative effect on the University.

“It’s affecting students directly,” Lee said. “Some faculty are leaving or deciding not to take positions here because of the policy.”

Lee and the LGBT Advocates are putting together a petition in support of domestic partner benefits that they will present to Human Resources later in the week. As of Monday, they had 150 signatures.

University employees in domestic partnerships pay $9,500 dollars a year more than married employees, according to a report from the Commission on Women. The study calculates that over a twenty-five year period that amounts to $235,000.

It would be difficult for UH to extend domestic partner benefits to its employees because of the State’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. However, according to the report, there are universities in other states with similar amendments that have found ways to offer the benefits.

The report estimates that extending benefits to both same-sex and different-sex couples in domestic partnerships would cost the University from $218,738 to $327,205 a year.

Schroeder said that the University is sympathetic to LGBT causes and has recently taken steps to reach out to gay faculty and staff. One way they have done this is through a reinterpretation of the University’s bereavement leave policy. According to Schroeder, the University decided that the wording of the policy was broad enough to include employees who are in domestic partnerships.

First-year social work graduate student Melanie Pang heard about the event through Cougar Allies. Pang said that she has always been close to the LGBT community on campus.

“At the most basic level, there are citizens who have rights and citizens who don’t,” Pang said. “You would think that whoever employs you would support you.”

One Response to Partnership rights march

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑
  • Sign up for our Email Edition

  • Polls

    What about UH will you miss the least this summer?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...