Benefits should be equal for all couples

By By Cathy Martinez

By Cathy Martinez

I am a new hire at the U. I am the new director of the LGBT Resource Center — Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender, for those of you who are not familiar with the acronym.

Everyone I have come in contact with at the U has been wonderful, supportive and encouraging. The students have been great, the staff has been helpful and the faculty has been more than willing to meet with me. I like my job at the U and I feel honored to be working for such a great institution. I plan on working at the U for very long time.

However, I have one area of concern — the health insurance coverage. This policy does not affect just me, but countless other staff and faculty members. You see, anyone who is unmarried and living with a partner or significant other who chooses not to marry, or cannot marry, has no choice except to either purchase health insurance for their loved one (and pay up to three times more to insure their partner) or watch their partner go without health coverage.

For example, if I could marry, I would pay three times less to carry my spouse on my insurance. In my case, I have to pay $300 to $400 more each month to insure my partner. Again, keep in mind that this does not just impact same-sex couples living together in a valid partnership. This affects heterosexual couples who, for whatever reasons, choose not to get married but are living together in a meaningful partnership.

I find this policy offensive and discriminatory. I have to pay more to insure my partner of 14 years because we are not considered a married couple under Utah law. We own property together, we pay taxes like everyone else, we contribute to the community and we even have a child together. We have a delightful, committed family.

In the long run, changing this policy and making it more equitable might not cost the university much more money. It might even serve in the recruitment and retention of highly qualified staff and faculty. My hope is the university will, in the near future, work closely with the legislature to change this policy.

Changing this policy would send the message that those who do not or cannot marry are just as important as those who are married.

If you share my opinion, please let your voice be heard. For those who do not share my opinion, imagine having $300 to $400 more taken from your check every month to insure your spouse. This could be money that you could be setting aside for your children’s education, or this could be taking food from your table.

Again, I love my job and feel honored and fortunate to work for the University of Utah. I hope that my son chooses to attend college here at the U.

Cathy Martinez is the new director of the U’s LGBT Resource Center