Thursday, May 15, 2014

The University of Arkansas extends insurance coverage to same-sex spouses

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 4:56 PM

And the walls of discrimination come tumbling down. The University of Arkansas System is now allowing employees who are married to spouses of the same sex to add them to university benefit plans. Until Judge Chris Piazza's ruling, Arkansas law prohibited conferring the benefits of marriage, much less marriage itself, on same-sex couples.

The UA dithered for years — despite pressure from employees — in resisting domestic partnership coverage. This is NOT a same-sex spouse deal, but a family-friendly policy that covers households of all sorts, including same-sex couples, and encourages family stability and better employees. They'll probably still dither on that.

Meanwhile, celebrate this news, distributed by e-mail at UAMS today:

Human Resources Announces Same-Sex Spouse Insurance Coverage

Those who are married to spouses of the same sex may now add them to the University’s benefit plans.

New spouses may be added within one month of the marriage date.

Same sex couples married in other states prior to May 9 (date of Judge Piazza’s ruling) may also add their spouses. The deadline to do so is June 9.

Coverage takes effect the first of the following month.

Visit our HR Employee Services office on 4C of the Central Building to complete benefit forms. Bring a copy of your marriage license. All newly married couples, regardless of gender, are required to provide this documentation. If you are unable to visit our office in person, call 501-686-5650 and we can direct you to forms on our website or arrange to have forms mailed to you.

Please refer to the marriage checklist for a guide to benefit, taxes and other changes you should consider.

Following is the statement issued by the University of Arkansas System Office:

… with respect to the University’s medical benefit plan, any same sex couple in Arkansas or married in another state recognizing same sex marriage shall be eligible for coverage under the plan unless the Circuit Court’s decision is stayed by the Arkansas Supreme Court. Same sex couples married in Arkansas before such stay shall be entitled to participate in the University’s plan unless the stay order addresses this issue to the contrary. Eligibility for the University’s other benefits depending upon marital status shall be examined on a case by case basis but it is likely that such benefits would be granted to a same sex married couple.

One of the religious right lawyers who seem to be leading local government opposition to Piazza's ruling better hurry and ask the state Supreme Court to stop this outrage. Though it will be more waste of taxpayer dollars. Whatever else happens, a federal court ruling on Arkansas law awaits. No way. Repeat, no way, can the state's discrimination against people married in other states stand.

Don't tell Jason Rapert. Or UCA. If they followed the law like UA, homey Rapert might go truly ballistic.

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