Temple to offer
Gay couples would
By Bill Schackner
will become Pennsylvania's first public university to
benefits to domestic partners of gay and heterosexual employees
through a pact
with union workers under which gay couples will pay the
The move, confirmed
by school officials yesterday, applies to unions
about 2,100 white-collar staff, faculty and graduate
students -- nearly
40 percent of Temple's full-time work force.
David Adamany cited his school's need to stay competitive
as a reason for
the decision. He said offering the benefit as an option will
not require expenditure
of state or university funds, and is an outgrowth of
talks as far back as the summer.
The issue of domestic
partner benefits has been a volatile one in the state
and at the University of Pittsburgh, where the school since
1996 has been
defending against a lawsuit by seven gay and lesbian workers.
At least two conservative
lawmakers yesterday suggested their colleagues
Temple for taking the step.
"I believe the
Legislature had sent a clear message that we don't support
that," said state
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry. "I know I, for one, as
will a number
of my colleagues, advance the position we should defund them
totally. I certainly
will advance that position."
State Rep. Jeff
Coleman, R-Apollo, said the Legislature likely would be
support a university that would make such a move.
"I think people
view a move such as Temple's as a move toward allowing same
said the decision made sense given the number of companies
and major research
universities that now offer it.
"We have to compete
against the best public and private universities in the
said. "If we are going to compete for the very best in
technical fields, the kind of people that industry would like
to hire, we have
to have a comparable benefit program."
He doubted that
lawmakers would act without hearing the school's reasons,
and he expected
the matter will be fully discussed as the House and Senate
committees take up next year's budget.
Adamany said the
talks were common knowledge for some time on campus and
he's aware of
no public official who has thus far suggested the school not
As a state-related
university with 33,000 students, Temple relies on the
part of its annual budget.
as early as the end of the month to begin enrolling partners
through its outside
insurer, said Martin Dorph, vice president, chief
and treasurer at Temple. Couples must meet various
such as joint ownership of property or legal or
for one another.
there is a cost, this is an ability to get coverage, and
at a rate that
is part of our group plan," Dorph said.
He said that could
be lower in many cases than the rate an individual would
get by going
directly to an insurer. Heterosexual couples meeting the
law marriage requirement are typically eligible for benefits
the same as married
the agreement first with the graduate student union, but the
other two unions
had language in their contracts stating that if partner
offered on campus, their members should be included.
Adamany said he
did not believe his school's decision would necessarily
other state-related schools -- Pitt, Penn State
Lincoln University -- to offer similar coverage.
Robert Hill did not return a call seeking comment yesterday.
Lawyers from the
American Civil Liberties Union, who represent workers suing
Temple's decision and that of Drexel University, a private
also recently decided to extend partner benefits to its
"The ACLU hopes
the decisions by these fine Philadelphia-based universities
Pitt and other schools in the state to follow suit," said
legal director of the Pittsburgh office of the ACLU.
At Penn State,
where officials previously said the political waters were not
right to implement
the benefit, a spokesman yesterday said a private
fund endowed by an anonymous donor has allowed at least
to sign up for domestic partner benefits.