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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
November 2, 2007

U Cincinnati becomes the 7th state school with partner benefits

Cincinnati--Three months after an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that limited the state’s anti-marriage amendment, the University of Cincinnati announced that it will grant full benefits to the domestic partners of over 6,000 employees.

The university had already granted some benefits, including insurance and sick leave, but the new contract with the American Association of University Professors will extend the full array of perks, including tuition benefits, to domestic partners.

Around 30 employees made use of the limited additions last year, and the new expansion should only increase health care costs about one percent, according to university estimates.

Six other public universities in Ohio already offer domestic partner benefits to their employees: Miami University, Ohio University, Ohio State University, Cleveland State, Youngstown State and the University of Toledo.

Cincinnati’s announcement came on October 24, three months after a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that the 2004 constitutional amendment does not affect domestic violence laws, which cover “people living as spouses.”

Ohio State University law professor Marc Spindelman said in July that the ruling also cleared the way for establishing LGBT rights and benefits, as long as they stop short of offering all of the benefits of marriage.

Spindelman pointed to part of the majority opinion written by Chief Justice Thomas Moyer. He says it is the key to what the court thinks of the amendment’s second sentence, which reads: “This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effect of marriage.”

Moyer wrote, “[T]he second sentence of the amendment means the state cannot create or recognize a legal status for unmarried persons that bears all of the attributes of marriage--a marriage substitute.”

The key word is “all” of the attributes, not some of them. Moyer’s example of a “marriage substitute” is a civil union.

State Rep. Thomas Brinkman, a Republican representing suburban Cincinnati, sued Miami University over their domestic partner benefits, claiming that they violated the marriage ban amendment. However, an appellate court threw out the suit in August, telling Brinkman he did not have legal standing to sue.

“This is something that the university is glad to do,” Cincinnati’s vice provost for academic personnel Karen Faaborg told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “And we are aware that to remain competitive in terms of attracting faculty that we have to offer this.”

Eric Resnick contributed to this report.



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