Oct 012008
Authors: Johnny Hart

In an initiative 13 years in the works, the CSU System Board of Governors Wednesday unanimously voted to extend health benefits to domestic partnerships, either same sex or opposite sex marriages, increasing the health care fund a projected $200,000

According to a university press release, the CSU faculty council forwarded the resolution this past spring, and CSU President Larry Penley presented the resolution to the board yesterday.

Foula Dimopoulos, director of GLBT Student Services, said that learning of the initiative’s passing was akin to taking the first breath after swimming under water.

“It sends a message to staff and faculty who are in same sex relationships that they are valued as the same as opposite sex, married couples,” Dimopoulos said.

Penley said he was pleased with the voting results.

“This matter has long been a priority of Colorado State’s Faculty Council, and I thank the board for taking action on it today,” Penley said Wednesday in a press release.

Of the approximately 3,700 eligible employees of the university, between one and three percent will add dependant partners.

“The university is following suit with many public institutions across the country and following suit of many Fortune 500 companies,” Dimopoulos said.

Associated Students of CSU President Taylor Smoot echoed her sentiments.

“GLBT rights are the Civil Rights Movement of our generation,” Smoot said. “I commend President Penley on stepping up.”

Smoot, who was present at the BOG’s meeting, said that he fully supported the policy change.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

The action item said that eight of 11 Colorado Commission for Higher Education institutions, including the University of Colorado-Boulder, offer benefits to domestic partners.

Also, both the Public Employees’ Retirement Association and Larimer County offer domestic partnership benefits.

Dimopoulos said she personally has been affected by domestic partnership benefits.

“Policies like this affect the daily life of people,” she said. “It’s one less thing to worry about and one less struggle on a daily basis.”

Dimopoulos and Smoot both said that this policy change is the result of many years of struggle for domestic partnership rights.”The decision didn’t just happen over the last year,” Dimopoulos said. “It’s because of our past and present heroes that this came to fruition.”

According to the action plan, the University Benefits Committee formally recommended the extension of benefits to domestic partners in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2004.

Smoot and Dimopoulos believe that adding domestic partnerships to CSU’s healthcare plan will aid future recruiting practices for faculty.

Before accepting any job, Dimopoulos said that she “looked for the existence of non-discriminatory sexual orientation policy. I won’t work at a place if they don’t have that,” she said.

Senior Reporter Johnny Hart can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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