University of Missouri extends domestic partner benefits to employees

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While the question of how far to extend rights to the LGBTQ community is at the forefront of the national news, the University of Missouri System approved domestic partner benefits Thursday, expanding insurance to the LGBT community.

Extending health insurance coverage to domestic partnership has been an initiative supported by UT faculty, but is not available on campus.

The University of Missouri System’s Board of Curators, similar to UT System’s Board of Regents, voted unanimously to include “sponsored adult dependents,” which would cover same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples living together.

Work to expand domestic partner benefits to the UT faculty has been an on-going fight on campus resulting in a unanimously passed resolution encouraging the UT System Board of Regents to work with the Texas Legislature to provide benefits to domestic partners of system employees.

Current state law only allows the UT and Texas A&M Systems to offer uniform benefits to dependents, including spouses and unmarried children under the age of 25, under the Texas Family Code.

The code states definitions of husband, being a man and wife and being a woman, although civil unions between people of the same sex do not qualify as spouses.

A bill to extend benefits to system employees was filed in the legislature in March, but did not even make it to a committee hearing.

This comes at time when rights for the LGBTQ community are in flux, as many await the United States Supreme Court decision on the cases involving the rights of LGBTQ couples.

The Supreme Court could rule as soon as Monday on the constitutionality of The Defense of Marriage Act, which limits federal benefits to married unions between a man and a woman, and California’s Proposition 8, aimed to ban same-sex marriage.

Follow Christine Ayala on Twitter @Christine_Ayala.