One of GiN’s readers has kindly offered to share his letter written to the NU Board of Regents about President Millken’s proposal to extend medical benefits to domestic partners of University System employees. The letter appears below, and thanks to Michael for sending it in. I’d also like to report that this subject has garnered more attention, both in amount of traffic to the article we published and in the discourse ongoing in the comments. At the very least, it’s a hot button issue.
Michael raises an excellent and important point not mentioned in the original article we published or any of the comments; Nebraskans passed – by 70%, reportedly – an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Nebraska in 2000:
Sec.29. Marriage; same-sex relationships not valid or recognized.
Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized inNebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union,domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not bevalid or recognized in Nebraska.
Source: Neb. Const. art.I,sec. 29 (2000); Adopted 2000, Initiative Measure No. 416
November 29, 2011
To the University of Nebraska Board of Regents:
President Milliken has recently proposed extending medical insurance coverage to unmarried domestic partners of University faculty, staff and students, if I correctly understand his proposal. His justification is to make the university system more competitive in recruiting faculty. On the surface, it looks to me like an end run around the recent constitutional amendment to recognize only heterosexual marriage and to give no legal standing to civil unions or domestic partnerships. In my opinion, he is flaunting the expressed will of the voters of Nebraska, and proposing to do so at their expense. His Fourteenth Amendment equal rights argument makes sense only if marriage has neither meaning nor significance. But of course marriage has always been given enough legal recognition to enable permissible discrimination, if you will, to be exercised between married and unmarried individuals.
Furthermore, President Milliken bears the burden of proof to demonstrate that Nebraskans’ rejection of gay marriage and civil unions has caused at least several irreplaceable potential candidates to look elsewhere: how significant is this problem? Also, can it not be solved by offering a higher salary to offset the added medical insurance cost? This does not seem to have prevented, for example, the Nebraska Medical Center from having hired a sufficient number of talented researchers to rise to the top tier of medical research institutions. Finally, is it not a buyers market: are there not far more Ph.D.’s looking for faculty positions than there are positions to fill?
Thank you for your attention and consideration.
Michael [last name withheld]
[A Bachelor’s degree graduate and current graduate student at UNO]
District 4 Regent: Bob Whitehouse
Still need to round up contact information for the Board of Regents and find your regent’s name? Click HERE to view the previous article which includes links and information.