Bil Browning

Mass Exodus of Staff & Students at Univ of Michigan?

Filed By Bil Browning | October 31, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: brain drain, domestic partner benefits, unexpected ramifications, University of Michigan

Will staff and students at the University of Michigan take flight if a bill to repeal domestic partner benefits in university-of-michigan_logo.jpegthe state passes? Many have said they'll be gone in a heartbeat.

...Domestic partner benefits for state employees --including staff at Michigan's 15 public universities-- are in jeopardy due to a bill that seeks to save approximately $8 million a year by eliminating the benefits. House bill 4770 was approved by the Michigan House of Representatives in September in a 64-44 vote and is currently under consideration by the state senate.
U-M Latin professor Sara Ahbel-Rappe said that if bill 4770 passes there will likely be a large exodus of professors who leave the university.

"It's a total slap in the face. It tells me that I don't deserve the same consideration" as heterosexual couples, she said. "People will leave."
U-M officials are also concerned about the bill's effects. Nearly all of U-M's competitors offer benefits to same-sex partners. So do most Fortune 500 companies.

Indiana's proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions could also outlaw domestic partner benefits as many experts have testified. I know several professors and other highly skilled workers who have already started moving out of state to friendlier areas of the nation.

Hell, we packed up the family and moved to Washington, DC. I did an interview with Indianapolis Monthly today on the same subject. Regular folks in the Midwest are noticing this trend even if the politicos still toadying up to the religious right haven't.

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I dont know if IM has online comments or not, but if such an article were published in the Star, the comments would be 90% 'good riddance!'. Of course, articles about *anything* progressive (esp Erika Smith) get the same response. Indianapolis is a small-minded, mean-spirited, old-fashioned place.

If it doesn't have to do with sports, noone is interested in anything new (and if the Colts and Pacers had imploded a few years ago, perhaps we wouldn't have paid hundreds of millions to built their palaces, and tens of millions to keep them going).

Unfortunately, you're probably right. Any policymaker with a modicum of intelligence would do everything possible to keep smart and talented people in his or her state. But the people making these policies -- and their supporters among the public -- aren't intelligent people.

Bil and I have talked about this a bunch - how many of the original Indiana Bilerico contributors are still residing in Indiana? bil and Jerame moved out, Ellen Anderson moved out, Bruce Parker moved out, I moved out....

All my friends from high school have moved out except one, and they're mostly straight. So the problem is bigger, but I wouldn't be surprised if LGBT people were more likely to leave.

Hey all. There's no question that I left Indiana specifically because of its LGBT-phobic policies. It's NICE to live in a state (Vermont) that values my family. But I suspect that most professors, even the ones who are really pissed off, won't leave the University of Michigan if DP benefits are repealed. Why? Because the job market for professors in most fields is terrible and isn't going to get better anytime soon. My wife and I were terrifically lucky to get two good academic jobs in an LGBT-friendly state. They're hard to come by. The question a lot of people will have to answer is this: am I willing to leave my profession just to move to a state with good LGBT policies? That's a hard one to answer.

I think the key here is, if you get the offer, you'll definitely leave. I think the difference here is that it's not that professionals would pack up and move; it's that they're actively seeking other positions, meaning that you've got a base of professionals that instead of being stable and secure, is volatile in terms of the long-term. They may not be leaving now, but if the bill passes, then the second any of them gets an offer somewhere else with the inclusion of DP benefits (or marriage benefits), they'll be gone.