The University Council approved the Proposal for Implementation of Full Domestic Partner Benefits for University employees at its meeting Thursday afternoon.
The proposal would give domestic partners full health insurance benefits and voluntary participation in supplemental life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance and vision benefits.
Although the University Council passed the proposal, the implementation of the proposal is not guaranteed — the council serves as an advisory board to University President Michael Adams.
Adams said he now needs to consult with other universities and the appropriate people on the Board of Regents before moving forward and deciding whether to implement the proposal.
“Health-related issues are an entirely different category,” he said. “We need to make sure to hit all our bases.”
Janet Frick, chair of the Human Resources Committee, said the proposal is a new approach to how the University might address the issue.
“We have tried multiple times to achieve full domestic partner benefits,” she said. “But we haven’t tried the current approach, the current strategy as to how it would be funded.”
Frick said the administration decides ultimately how to implement the proposal, but she suggested using discretionary funds or a monthly cash allowance, which would be equal to state spousal contribution, to fund the program.
According to her research, Frick said she estimates the proposal to cost $270,000 a year, giving the participants $450 a month — the same amount employees’ spouses receive from the state for health insurance.
Ricky Roberts, chair of GLOBES, said the proposal isn’t asking for state money but rather University support.
“Look at what we have locally, the resources we do have here today that could fully fund this program,” she said.
The proposal received widespread support from select senators in the Student Government Association, the Graduate Student Association, UGA GLOBES and many faculty and staff.
Will Burgess, SGA president, said the proposal is a step in the right direction to achieve goals of equality and University competitiveness.
“There is a very minimal cost to this initiative and a very real cost of not doing it,” he said.
Asen Kirin, associate professor of art, said without the proposal, a human cost exists.
“The human cost manifests itself in the acute feeling...that my well-being matters less,” he said. “The lives of my colleges’ spouses and children are precious and are valued and respected — not so for my partner’s life and well-being.”
Frick said implementing the proposal is a necessary step in the right direction.
“There is a real, tangible cost of not having these benefits,” she said. “It’s not expensive, something we can do locally and the right thing to do.”