November 11, 2008
Domestic Partner benefits at UT

It had not occurred to me that the University of Texas did not offer domestic partner benefits to its faculty and staff. I've worked for one large corporation or another for years that has had them as a matter of course. Apparently, however, UT employees are still fighting for this basic benefit.

In 2006 the Pride and Equity Faculty/Staff Association (PEFSA) was established as a University Resource Group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) employees at The University of Texas at Austin. As a result of concerns regarding workplace equity for GLBT faculty and staff, a PEFSA subcommittee was formed. The committee conducted research, benchmarked peer institutions, and interviewed faculty and staff on campus. After this yearlong study, the committee produced a 70 page report containing questions and answers regarding domestic partner benefits (DPB). The following summarizes the major findings of the report and the recommendations by PEFSA to the President of UT Austin.


1. UT Austin does not provide benefits to partners of faculty and staff members unless the relationship qualifies as a "marriage" according to Texas law. The consequences are an inequity in compensation and an inherent message that domestic partners are 'less than.' As a result, UT Austin is losing faculty and staff.

  • Recruitment and retention: Tenured faculty and seasoned staff are leaving the University and potential hires are declining offers from UT due to the lack of benefits for Domestic Partners.

  • Equity: Research indicates that a married employee enjoys significantly greater overall compensation than their non-married counterpart even though both perform identical work. The estimated difference in compensation for a faculty member earning $80,000 per year is $8,108.

  • Diversity: Because UT Austin does not offer DBP it undermines both its own non-discrimination policy and its ability to create and foster a diverse workforce.

2. The estimated cost to UT Austin to add DPB is .0058 of the current budget amount for health insurance expenditures.

3. Although Texas has a constitutional amendment limiting the definition of marriage to one man and one woman, other universities with similar state laws offer DPB to their faculty and staff.

4. The Board of Regents is not prohibited from providing DPB and is obligated under the Texas Education Code and Texas Insurance Code to provide benefits competitive with those offered by peer institutions and businesses with whom UT competes for employees.

  • 8 out of 10 peer institutions provide DPB

  • 304 universities including all Ivy League schools offer DPB

  • 9,374 employers in the United States offer DPB

The full report is here (PDF). I have to admit, it's surprising to me that UT is so behind the curve on this. Domestic partner benefits just aren't unusual or controversial in the private sector any more. UT needs to get with the times.

For those of you who are connected to UT and want to help President Powers and the Board of Regents do the right thing, there's going to be a rally on the Texas Union Patio tomorrow at noon in favor of domestic partner benefits. You can also sign the petition, join the Facebook group, or just go old school and write to the man:

William C Powers Jr
The University of Texas at Austin
President's Office
PO Box T
Austin, TX 78713
[email protected]

There's no reason this can't happen, and there's no reason it shouldn't. Please do what you can to help. Thanks very much.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 11, 2008 to The great state of Texas

Yet another reason to blow off whatever student is duped into calling this lifetime Texas Exes member for fundraising.

Posted by: Justin Gillenwater on November 12, 2008 3:54 AM

This petition would probably be more useful if sent to UT System instead of UT Austin, as most of the benefits are administered at the System level instead of the component level. Added bonus: UT Houston and MD Anderson employees would also benefit.

Posted by: UT Employee on November 13, 2008 5:11 PM
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