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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    LGBT groups urged to fight for benefits

    As one of the only Pac-10 schools that does not offer domestic partner benefits, the UA is not competitive in recruiting faculty, which is something that needs to change, said LGBT studies officials at a welcoming event for new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of the UA.

    With the exception of a tuition reduction, UA does not offer domestic partner benefits, such as health or dental insurance, and as a result, the university is not as successfully competitive compared to those other universities when it comes to recruiting faculty, said Laura Briggs, acting department head for women’s studies.

    President Robert Shelton was supposed to attend but was unable to make it.

    Although LGBT community members want an increase in domestic partner benefits, the ability to receive those benefits depends on the outcome of Proposition 107, also know as Protect Marriage Arizona, Briggs said.

    Proposition 107 will not only affect the gay community but also people of other types of relationships including heterosexual couples that live together but are not legally married, said Jessica Pettitt, the coordinator for social justices programs at the UA.

    “”What proposition 107 will do is reiterate the fact that gay marriage is illegal and it will take away health benefits and insurance from all currently unmarried peoples,”” Pettitt said. “”It is not just about gay marriage; nonmarried couples that have children will lose benefits.””

    Tucson is the only city in Arizona that recognizes domestic partnerships, which is one reason Tucson draws a large gay community. However, the proposition would set back any chance for the LGBT community to get more benefits.

    Former President Peter Likins was able to secure domestic partner tuition reduction in 2005 although he could not get other domestic partner benefits in the face of the state Legislature.

    Pettitt’s said she has heard Shelton is against Proposition 107, but he could not be reached for comment.

    Fenton Johnson, an associate professor of creative writing, said that Shelton has seemed very supportive of the gay community. “”We are enthusiastic and encouraged by his support.””

    Keith Humphrey, interim assistant dean of students, said although he has had limited interaction with Shelton, the new president has been very positive and is looking critically at what he can do to help the gay community.

    When Shelton was the executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was able to help the LGBT community by getting private donations and creating a LGBT student center, said Humphrey.

    Humphrey hopes Shelton can display the same sort of creativity that he did at North Carolina here at the UA.

    “”Proposition 107 will severely hurt the ability for the UA to recruit and retain students faculty and staff and will also interfere with the land grant mission,”” Humphrey said.

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