The Graduate and Professional Student Senate unanimously approved an Oct. 23 proposal to extend to heterosexual couples the same rights they would have if they were homosexual.
The problem, GPSS President Jason Marshall SOM ’04 said, is that only graduate and professional students’ heterosexual married spouses and homosexual partners — who fulfill certain requirements indicating they are in long-term, committed relationships — can get Yale affiliate identification cards. The proposal requests that students’ heterosexual partners, regardless of marital status, only be required to fulfill the same requirements as homosexual partners.
Marshall said the senate decided not to ask that unmarried heterosexual partners receive health benefits to help ensure that the administration adopts the proposal.
“It’s anticipating a potential roadblock,” Marshall said. “For a very small cost to the University, you can have a large benefit to student life.”
Jonathon Swersey SOM ’05, who spoke at the meeting in support of the proposal, said in the past the rule that heterosexual couples need to be married in order for partners to get IDs was not enforced strictly. He said this year the administration has been cracking down, and his fiancee, Julie Wald, has been unable to obtain an ID.
“At some point, the University noticed that there were a large proportion of applications for partner IDs from people with different last names,” Swersey said.
Wald said she would like an ID to gain access to the gym, library and shuttle service.
“I feel very cut off,” Wald said. “Yale made it seem like we were really going to be a part of the community. I took a different bar exam to come here.”
Lindsey LeCuyer, the wife of Andrew LeCuyer SOM ’04, said she co-coordinates the Partners student interest group in the School of Management and spoke at the senate meeting. She said she had thought any partner, regardless of marital status, could get an ID. She said she has told prospective SOM students’ partners they would be able to obtain IDs.
“I was one of the people who basically misinformed people,” LeCuyer said. “Basically my response [upon hearing some partners could not get IDs] was very apologetic and just telling them that I was going to begin whatever action was necessary.”
Jordan Yelinek GRD ’08, a student advocate for the GPSS, drafted the proposal. Yelinek said he is hopeful the administration will adopt the proposal.
“We have a very good shot at working this through the administration,” Yelinek said.
Nico Lang DRA ’05, a GPSS senator and co-sponsor of the proposal, said she is not sure the administration will accept the proposal. Even though health benefits were not part of the proposal, Lang said, the administration may eventually be asked to give unmarried heterosexual partners health benefits if it accepts the current proposal.
Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey said he will consider the proposal, even though he said he sees some rationale in treating homosexual couples differently because of the different legal options available to them.
“I do think this is a request that we should mull over, and what I will do is forward the request to the Provost because this is an issue that would apply to graduate and professional students, and because it transcends any one school it is something that needs to be thought about at the Provost’s level,” he said.
Yelinek said there will be a meeting with the administration to discuss the proposal later this week.