UVa Provides Same-Sex Benefits

In a press release, UVa has announced they’re providing at least one benefit to same-sex couples:

Effective immediately, current full-time students, as well as faculty and staff members who are eligible for University benefits, will be able to sponsor one adult (18 years or older) who resides in the same household for a University Recreation membership. All other existing policies related to membership, including family membership, remain unchanged.

The Plus One program is being implemented as a result of a recent opinion — issued June 7, 2007 — by Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell. The opinion, which was requested by the University, states “the University of Virginia is authorized to provide a recreational gym membership to an adult who is not a spouse and who lives in the household of an employee or student.”

It looks like both the university and McDonnell are treating this gingerly.

20 thoughts on “UVa Provides Same-Sex Benefits”

  1. It sounds like this policy also includes cohabiting couples–not a spouse, but an adult in the same household. Hooray! A far cry from the day ten years ago when I had to produce a copy of my marriage license to prove that I was indeed the legal spouse of my spouse–different last names are so confusing to bureaucracy. If I had taken my spouse’s name, though, no marriage license would have been required…

  2. My wife and I are in the same boat, Cecil. (As were my parents before us.) We don’t even have a copy of our marriage license — apparently some special application has to be sent to Raleigh to verify our NC wedding — and we’re lucky that it hasn’t been a problem for us yet.

  3. A far cry. But they are losing too many faculty to other schools that offer benefits to both gay and straight couples.
    Not that this is a big benefit.

  4. _Can_ the university provide healthcare benefits to unmarried and same-sex couples, given the passage of that amendment? Wouldn’t the state be all over them if they tried to do so? I mean, if they had to get a special opinion from the AG before making this move…I know it’s a very big issue among faculty–one of the reasons we can’t attract or retain some of the faculty we want.

    yeah, gym membership isn’t quite the Holy Grail, but at least they’re removing what must feel like a really annoying, belittling slap at committed couples.

  5. It sure isn’t the Disney Studio’s same gender benefit plan, but it’s a good (tiny) start.

  6. Nice provocative headline there, Waldo…

    Personally, I would have gone with the “What! only one member of my polyamorous triad can go to the gym with me?” angle, but then it’s not my blog. Alas.

  7. Presumably two people may couple and cohabit without having sex. Seems to me, any two people, regardless of sex, of legal age, should qualify. To what must one swear to qualify as a “couple”?

    To take things further, I think many “married” couples don`t have sex. How much sex per week (day, year) is required to qualify? If none exists, does UVA then disqualify the “couple”?

  8. Van, to address those very concerns, that’s why UVa made this applicable to any adult cohabiting with a member of the UVa community who already has access to the gym. Lawmakers are discovering that it’s not easy to define “gay.” There was an effort in the General Assembly to prohibit homosexuals from adopting. But there’s no breathalyzer for sexuality. :) It’s entirely unenforceable.

  9. I tend to be really irritated that now we have UVA in our bedrooms determining how much of a “couple” we are? Do we have sex? Are we straight-bi-gay? All this for a lousy GYM membership. Come ON. While everyone seems to be patting UVA on the back for this huge step forward FOR A GYM MEMBERSHIP-there’s still a lot of folks WITH NO HEALTH INSURANCE.
    I do not understand what the big public bru ha ha is over a GYM membership. How about a living wage? How about healthcare for ALL couples without investigating their sexual habits and preferences? This is really not going to help them recruit new faculty and doctors and keep current ones from absconding to a more liberal school.

  10. Jan, my reading of this policy would seem to show that UVa has gone way out of their way here to stay out of our bedrooms. They don’t care if you’re a couple. The person needs only be an adult living at the same address. Does that seem to follow from what you’ve read?

    IMHO, it’s worth crediting UVa for this because, hey, they did something right. If they’re praised when they do the right thing, even if it’s something small, it’ll make it that much easier for them to take some more substantial steps forward in the future. We spend so much time telling them that they do things wrong — it’s only fair to credit them this time around. :)

  11. BilCo,

    I for one am tired of half-baked comparisons of same sex marriage to polygamy. They are unrelated, excepting for the fact that currently, both are illegal in Virginia. Beyond that, there isn’t a logical connection.

    However, now same sex couples can go to the gym together, and any plogymous arrangement will have to draw straws for the spouse who gets to work out.

  12. Hey, Sylvia!
    I actually made no comparison between same-sex marriage and polygamy. In fact, I never mentioned polygamy. You must have read me wrong, or read into what I wrote. The term I actually used was “polyamory“. I was, jokingly, chiding Waldo for his headline mentioning “Same-Sex” benefits and linking to an article that mentions nothing of the kind directly.
    Of course what UVA is offering is the option for same-sex couples to be able to use its recreation facilities, but so also are they offering the option for one’s room mates or live in siblings, your old fat uncle who lives in the attic, etc. to share in the benefit. I, like so many others who have posted here, think this is a great first (baby) step towards the way government should treat all non-married couples.

  13. Glad you clarified. I actually did read the post as relating very much to same sex couples. That is the most likely application, no? (Why else would the University appeal to the Attorney General for a legal position?) If you want to share your gym membership with your fat uncle with whom you share a domicile, have away at it, but I do think your interpretation is a wee simplistic.

    As for polyamory, still not really comparable to same sex couples. Good luck choosing who will get the gym membership benefits.

  14. As much as I want to praise UVa for this small, baby-step, I am equally frustrated and angry that we’ve only gotten this far. It’s 2007!! I mean, I understand why it’s taken so long, but it’s just so tiresome. We’re talking about a seat of intellect and knowledge and rationality, and benefits for the people who work very hard to foster this kind of environment. It’s like a bad vacation-tee slogan: And all my life partner and I got was this lousy gym membership.

    The other part, which I find rather sad is that, while obviously geared towards same-sex couples, the Program wording reads more like a loophole for same-sex couples than an actual acknowledgement. That’s where I get a little too frustrated for words.

    Jan: Waldo is right in that UVa is actually doing a pretty good job of staying out of the bedroom (almost painstakingly so, as well they should). But I otherwise agree with you completely: the real discussion should be about equitable living wages and healthcare, because, let’s be honest, a gym membership is not going to be the tipping point for potential candidates. Nor will it be enough to persuade any faculty to stay.

    BilCo: ha HAAHhaha haa haha. Given the completely vague wording of the Program, polyamory is only the next logical front of action. Plus Three, Seven, But No Fewer Than One
    : )

  15. Waldo said,
    “Van, to address those very concerns, that’s why UVa made this applicable to any adult cohabiting with a member of the UVa community ”

    Hi Waldo, My point was primarily to emphasize how ridiculous this whole thing is. Perhaps too subtle.

    The sad part, is, I think, the effort on the part of organizations, government, yada , yada, to politically satisfy everyone with patchwork rules, when most citizens think equality and equal treatment is very good thing. UVA falls into the category of pleasing customers (parents and employees)to enhance their business (yes, lest we forget, they are a business )which is a bottom line effort, and of course this reflects in pay, benefits, etc).

    Of course, digressing once more, when our government finishes the creation of yet another “underclass” with the “border busting” bill, spurred by bottom line organizations, the situation will deteriorate at a faster pace.

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