Duke says LGBT benefits will continue

From Staff ReportsMay 9, 2012 

— Duke University officials said Wednesday they do not expect Amendment One to affect the university’s long-standing policy to extend same-sex partner benefits to faculty and staff.

“Duke was one of the first employers to make benefits available to same sex partners in 1994 as a way to be inclusive and supportive of the needs of all faculty and staff, and this support will continue,” Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president of administration at Duke, said in a statement.

Same-sex couples will continue to be eligible to participate in medical, dental, and vision benefits; reimbursement accounts; financial protection; educational assistance (tuition grant); retirement plans and survivor benefits, the university said.

In February, Duke publicly reaffirmed its “strong commitment to diversity in our missions of education, research and service to society.”

Duke added sexual orientation to the university’s nondiscrimination policy more than two decades ago, and later expanded it to include gender identity. The university recognizes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by

• Providing health insurance for same-sex spousal equivalents and families

• Extending Family Medical Leave Act benefits to LGBT families

• Extending the Duke Children’s Tuition Grant Program to LGBT families

• Ensuring family facility benefits for gym and library access

• Recognizing LGBT families for institutional financial aid purposes

• Welcoming same-sex unions at the Duke Chapel and the Duke Gardens.

• Providing funding, space and support for the Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Life

“We believe recognizing the families of LGBT faculty, employees and students by offering these and other benefits is essential for Duke to recruit, retain and nurture excellence in all our endeavors,” the university said. “In addition, our commitment to diversity and equality extends beyond the campus to our larger community and region. For example, since 2000 Duke has hosted the annual N.C. Pride parade and festival. It also hosted the first two Equality NC conferences and galas and sponsored the 2011 Equality Gala.

“Duke University and Duke Medicine reaffirm their commitment to providing equal benefits to LGBT faculty, staff, employees and students,” the statement continued. “As a major employer in North Carolina, we are proud to serve as a model of acceptance and diversity, and we stand alongside the LGBT community in seeking a more equal world.”

Amendment One defines marriage as between one man and one woman and prohibits other forms of domestic lega unions such as civil unions. It does not affect contracts between private parties like a private university and its employees.

This week, Durham and Orange counties, which offer benefits to domestic partners and their families, said they do not anticipate the amendment would have any immediate impact on their polices.

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