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Missouri State University’s Board of Governors recently extended the school’s benefits to full-time staff members in same-sex relationships. As KSMU’s Julie Greene reports, the unanimous decision marks a milestone for the LGBT community.
MSU Chief of Staff Paul Kincaid says that currently, 2,100 MSU employees are covered under the university medical plan. He adds that according to a study of schools that have passed similar measures, roughly one percent of employees will take part in the benefits. For Missouri State, that means that no more than 21 employees will sign up, projecting an annual cost of no more than $83,000.
The benefits include healthcare, tuition reimbursements, and any other benefit that would be extended to a spouse. They apply to both homosexual couples and unwed heterosexual couples.
William Hader is the president of MSU’s LGBT Association, a team of the school’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender faculty and staff that meet once a month.
“Passing these benefits promotes equality between our faculty and staff members that are lesbian and gay so they’re on equal footing with our heterosexual faculty and staff members. But passing these benefits aren’t just an LGBT issue. There are a lot of staff members at the university and faculty members at the university that have longtime committed relationships and partnerships, but they’ve never gotten married for various reasons, and this will allow that coverage to be extended to those couples as well,” Hader said.
Along with the unanimous decision by the Board of Governors, the university hopes this will help attract more potential employees to the university. Orvin Kimbrough is president and CEO of the United Way of Greater St. Louis and first chair of the board.
“Missouri State draws many great leaders from across the world. Because we are drawing from across the world, we’re also competing with institutions across the world, and we want to make sure that we provide competitive employee packages that recruit top notch, skilled individuals on the faculty and staff of the institution,” Kimbrough said.
In order for workers to be eligible for these benefits, the domestic partner must be at least 18 years old, have lived with the MSU employee for a minimum of 12 months prior to applying for the benefits, not currently be married to anyone else, not be related by blood or any other way that would legally restrict marriage in Missouri, be in an exclusive and committed relationship with the MSU employee, and not be a tenant of the MSU employee.
The enrollment period for these benefits runs from November 1 to December 1, with the benefits taking effect on January 1.
For KSMU News, I’m Julie Greene.