Yale should join peers in offering non-married couples benefits

To the Editor:

The column entitled “Benefits level playing field for gays” (1/30) provided a strong look at the benefits that the Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) are seeking for nonmarried heterosexual couples in committed relationships. The University did make a bold statement a decade ago to support homosexual domestic partnerships. This set of benefits is not intended to, in any way, demean that action or compromise the University’s commitment to providing the same level of benefits to same-sex partners. The GPSS has given its support to the resolution proposed to the Board of Aldermen regarding domestic partnership recognition in New Haven.

The News’ view “Heterosexual partner rights raise questions” (1/27) is correct that “real world employers would not incur such costs to extend privileges to the girlfriend or boyfriend of a new hire,” however, the method of determining who qualifies for the benefits is not taken into account in the article. The same manner in which a homosexual couple may apply for recognition by the University is the proposed method for unmarried heterosexual couples in committed relationships. These benefits would not be going to a transient new boyfriend or girlfriend, or even roommate, as the strictest of criteria are being applied to the situation.

This is a relevant and pressing situation today. The 2000 U.S. Census identified 3.8 million households classified as unmarried-partner households, which represented 3.7 percent of all American homes. More than 60 Fortune 500 companies, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Journals Association, offer full benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples in committed relationships. Among companies in this category are AOL, Chevron and Pfizer. It is true that Yale is an institution of higher learning and is not traded on the New York Stock Exchange. There are more than 25 peer institutions, such as the University of Chicago, that offer full benefits including medical and dental coverage, to unmarried heterosexual couples in committed relationships.

Jordan Yelinek GRD ’08

February 2, 2004

The writer is a student advocate for the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.