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January 29, 2010 7:11 PM Same-Sex Benefits: Syracuse University Tries to Split the Difference

By Daniel Luzer

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The battle over same sex marriage extends in an odd way to Syracuse University. According to an article in the Post-Standard:

A report from Chancellor Nancy Cantor recommends the university extend the benefits to “opposite-sex domestic partners of employees” as part of a broader change in employee benefits. The benefits would cost SU about $600,000 a year, the report issued on Friday estimates.
Medical benefits are already offered to spouses and same-sex domestic partners of employees. Extending the offer to opposite sex partners is an issue of fairness, said Thomas Dennison, a member of the committee that reviewed and commented on Cantor’s proposals over the past few months.

Suracuse University is not the only college to endorse living in sin make this move. In 2009 almost 40 percent of colleges indicated that they provided health care benefits for unmarried, opposite-sex partners.

The report recommends reimbursing same-sex couples $1,000 a year for taxes the partner will be forced to pay on health care premiums. Opposite-sex unmarried couples will not be compensated the for the tax; married couples don’t have to pay the tax.

In the same report Syracuse also proposed a number of cost saving measures, including reducing the college’s contribution to employees’ retirement accounts from 11 to 9 percent of the employee’s salary.

New York State does not allow couples of the same gender to marry. Last month the state senate rejected a gay marriage bill.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer