The University of Missouri Board of Curators voted unanimously Thursday to extend employment benefits to same sex couples employed by the UM System.
“Effectively, more and more employers and institutions such as the University of Missouri System realize you need to have these types of benefits in order to remain competitive in a state environment,” said AJ Bockelman, Executive Director of PROMO – a Missouri LGBT rights group that has been advocating for this change.
Bockelman estimates that benefits will be extended to approximately 250 couples throughout the state.
In the years leading up to this vote, faculty councils from all four of the system’s universities had approved resolutions calling for extension of benefits to their colleagues in same sex relationships.
PROMO also worked with Rep. Stephen Webber, a Democrat from Columbia, in lobbying the board to take up the issue.
“Part of the University of Missouri System’s mission is to advance the health of the people of Missouri,” Curator Wayne Goode said in a press release.
“I believe this addition to our health and welfare benefits will help faculty and staff be more productive and will help recruit and retain those of high quality.”
In order to receive the benefits, the sponsored adult dependent must meet five criteria:
- have the same principal residence as the employee or retired employee for at least 12 months (and continue to have the same principal residence);
- be 18 years of age or older;
- not be currently married to another person under either statutory or common law;
- not be related to the employee by blood or a degree of closeness that would prohibit marriage in the law of the state in which the employee resides;
- not be eligible for Medicare.
Bockelman sees this as a victory for equality in Missouri, but says his organization’s work is far from over.
“For the broader issue around the state, our organization remains committed to things like, advancing the fact that, you can still be fired in this state for being gay,” he said.
“Hopefully we are seeing equality advance across a number different platforms around the state.”