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Dear Editor,I am concerned about the sponsored dependent (domestic partnership) benefit that will be offered to EKU employees in January for three reasons: 1) It undermines marriage. The policy endorses the practice of unmarried couples living together and confers marriage-like benefits to them. It says to EKU, to Madison County, and to Kentucky that sexual relationships outside of marriage are not only legitimate but important enough to necessitate university sponsorship. 2) The policy conflicts with the Kentucky Constitution, which says, “A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.” The “sponsored dependent” envisioned by the policy is “an adult that shares primary residence with the covered EKU employee” who is not a relative and who must sign an “Affidavit of Sponsored Dependent Relationship.” Those qualifications are clearly the creation of a legal status substantially similar to that of marriage. If such is not the case, why can’t the sponsored dependent be a relative or a child? 3) The policy adds significant financial liabilities to EKU at a time when state budgets are being slashed and offices are being closed. Proponents of this policy point out that sponsored dependents must pay the full price for health insurance, but the policy encompasses far more than insurance. It confers rights to the faculty/staff tuition scholarship (currently worth $3312 per semester), sick leave, and bereavement leave, in addition to several other benefits. Do we really want to tell our generous friends in the legislature (who have saved higher education from the massive cuts experienced by other parts of the state government) that EKU is so flush with funds that it can create a new and open-ended benefit? If you share my concerns, please contact President Whitlock and the Board of Regents.

Todd Hartch
Associate Professor
History Department