The University of Tampa's student newspaper, the Minaret Online, is now reporting that the university will begin offering health insurance and other benefits for same-sex couples in domestic partnerships.
An email sent to school faculty and staff stated that they will begin April 1st. The benefits do not extend, however, to heterosexual domestic partnerships because they are legally able to marry in Florida:
The decision to offer same-sex domestic partner benefits was made after a lengthy, thorough and deliberate analysis. In 2008, the University hired an independent consulting firm, Sibson Consulting, to analyze issues and assess the feasibility of offering benefits to domestic partners.
Matt Gould, president of the Gay Lesbian Transgender Straight Bisexual Alliance had this to say of the decision:
It's about time. I think it's great that UT is implementing [benefits], but I think it's wrong that the entire county won't.
Gould is referring to the defeat in Hillsborough County of Commissioner Kevin Beckner's request to consider having the county offer domestic partner benefits. His request was voted down 5-2, with the commissioners not even allowing county staff to look further into the issue.
According to the Minaret, the plan has four components:
-Be made available to employees who are in long-term, committed relationships and cannot marry according to Florida state laws;
-Offer equity with married employees to the extent permitted by federal laws;
-Be financially responsible; and
-Not jeopardize the tax-favored status of any of UT's programs.
Because of the first condition, Sibson's study focused on the potential design and implementation of a same-sex domestic partner (SSDP) benefit program. Their research and recent presentation of findings helped us determine that offering same-sex domestic partner benefits is feasible and beneficial to the UT community.
Many other private universities, including Nova Southeastern and the University of Miami, offer domestic partner benefits, as do approximately 80 percent of U.S. News & World Report's top 50 colleges and more than half of Fortune 500 companies, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.