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USU Faculty to Debate Domestic Partner Benefits

USU Faculty to Debate Domestic Partner Benefits



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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- A proposal to offer domestic partners the same benefits as married employees is back at the Utah State University campus after a nine-month hiatus.

Barry Franklin, a professor at the College of Education and Human Services, circulated a petition and won the right to raise the issue Monday before the school's faculty. The Faculty Senate will decide Dec. 5 whether to keep the proposal alive.

It was dropped in March after Utah State legal counsel Craig Simper warned that offering domestic benefits may violate Utah's Amendment 3.

The constitutional amendment, approved by voters in 2004, defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman and adds, "No other domestic union may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equal legal effect."

Simper said he didn't want the school to become a test case for the law.

The University of Utah offers health insurance to employees' domestic partners, but the employee is required to pay the full share of the extra premium.

"I'm not sure everyone who signed the petition is in favor of domestic-partner benefits," Franklin said Friday, "but apparently they agree that the discussion should take place."

On Friday, Derek Mason, chairman of the USU Faculty Senate, said he had no comment on the proposal.

Stan Albrecht, who became USU's president in January, said in a statement that it was possible the Senate would decline to take up the issue.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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