September 13, 2002
Purdue trustees approve benefits for same-sex partners
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. The Purdue University Board of Trustees today (Friday, 9/13) agreed to extend benefits to same-sex domestic partners of university employees.
Effective Jan. 1, these couples will receive the same benefits as all other Purdue employees' spouses and dependents unless prohibited by law. Those benefits include medical insurance; tuition fee remissions; dependent life insurance; personal accident insurance; and access to university programs, services and facilities.
The policy change does not apply to opposite-sex, non-married partners.
"Universities have been among the first institutions to add same-sex domestic partners to their benefits programs," said Kenneth P. Burns, executive vice president and treasurer. "One year ago a task force of faculty and staff recommended that we adopt this change to remain competitive with other universities that had offered same-sex domestic partner benefits. It was, in part, a recruiting issue as well as an issue of fairness and a recognition of contemporary family diversity."
In the Big Ten, seven universities including Purdue now offer benefits to same-sex partners. Indiana University adopted similar policies earlier this year, as have other universities identified by Purdue as peer institutions. Among the peer universities that offer same-sex domestic partner benefits are California Berkeley, California Davis, Cornell and Michigan.
To be eligible for benefits, a Purdue employee must submit an affidavit attesting that the same-sex partners are not legally married to anyone, are 18 years or older and not related by blood closer than would bar marriage in the state of Indiana.
The affidavit also must assert that they are each other's sole partner and intend to remain emotionally and financially responsible for each other's common welfare indefinitely. They must be in a relationship that has existed 12 consecutive months or more and have shared a residence for at least 12 consecutive months.
Children of such partnerships of a university employee also are eligible for benefits if the child is a biological or adopted child or legal ward of one of the partners and is a member of the household of the employee. If unmarried, the children are eligible for benefits while living away from home as a full-time student. Eligibility for medical insurance for all dependent children ends when the child reaches age 19 unless the child qualifies for coverage as a student or a disabled child. Coverage for students terminates at the end of the month in which the child reaches age 26.
To apply for domestic partner benefits, a Domestic Partner Affidavit must be submitted to Staff Benefits in Freehafer Hall or to regional campus human resources offices. After completing the affidavit, employees may then apply during open enrollment for domestic partner benefits for the 2003 calendar year and afterward. Enrollment in benefit plans is governed by the same enrollment provisions as those for a spouse and/or children of the employee. Affidavits will be available in October from Staff Benefits and the regional campus human resources offices.
Applications for domestic partner benefits and information provided in the Affidavit of Domestic Partnership will be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law. Employees who have obtained domestic partner benefits must notify the university within 31 days of the termination of the relationship.
Because Indiana prohibits same-sex unions, John H. Beelke, Purdue's director of human resource services, advised employees who are considering applying for domestic partner benefits to consult tax and legal counsel before applying for benefits.
"Because this area of tax law is still developing, and because the situation of every employee is different, the university strongly encourages employees to consult with a tax adviser," Beelke said. "Applying for domestic partner benefits may create legal obligations and have legal consequences as well. We encourage employees to seek legal advice before applying for domestic partner benefits."
Further questions about domestic partner benefits may be directed to Staff Benefits in Freehafer Hall or to regional campus human resources offices.
Writer: Grant Flora, (765) 497-4491; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Kenneth P. Burns, (765) 494-9705; email@example.com
John H. Beelke, (765) 494-7395, firstname.lastname@example.org
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