Entitled "Offering Domestic Partnership Benefits," Recommendation 12 cites multiple reasons for implementing such a policy at Marquette.,”
Faculty and administrators are divided along personal and religious lines on the recent passage of a Marquette Student Government recommendation asking university administrators to provide domestic partnership benefits to all employees.
Entitled "Offering Domestic Partnership Benefits," Recommendation 12 cites multiple reasons for implementing such a policy at Marquette. These include the availability of domestic partnership benefits in Wisconsin and the presence of such benefits at six universities in the Big East athletic conference.
According to the legislation, offering these benefits would also enable Marquette to attract and keep a well-educated, diverse and distinguished faculty in order to compete with other universities and to ensure students get the most out of their education.
"The reason is that talent comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and orientations," said Cheryl Maranto, chair of the management department and incoming adviser for the Gay/Straight Alliance. "If your goal is to recruit and retain the best talent, you have to be a place that allows people to be themselves and to support their families."
The recommendation notes that such benefits are offered by other Jesuit schools like Georgetown University, Loyola Marymount University, University of San Francisco and Santa Clara University.
MUSG senators voted in favor of the recommendation 18-3 with three abstentions. Jay Hinner, National Residence Hall Honorary treasurer and College of Arts & Sciences sophomore, and Jason Rae, College of Arts & Sciences senator and sophomore, wrote the recommendation that former MUSG President Dan Calandriello, a College of Business Administration senior, signed on his last day in office.
After MUSG approval, the recommendation was sent to Steve Duffy, associate vice president of human resources, according to MUSG President Brock Banks, a College of Arts & Sciences junior.
"Like any piece of legislation, the next step is discussion with the administration," he said.
Duffy said in an e-mail to the Tribune that he is currently reviewing the legislation.
"Benefits are a key part of our overall compensation program, and (the human resources department) along with members of senior administration analyze them on an ongoing basis for market competitiveness and applicability to the Marquette workforce," he said.
According to Maranto, the stance of the Catholic Church impacts Marquette and makes a decision on domestic partnership benefits more complicated than at public universities. The Church opposes gay marriage, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2004 undertook an initiative to protect marriage, including opposition to gay marriage and cohabitation.
"There are a lot of factors to consider with regard to domestic partner benefits such as the views of the Catholic Church and the university's non-discrimination clause," Banks said. "I think this recommendation will generate quite a bit of discussion between both students and the administration about these issues, which is always positive."
Maranto said she was thrilled to see MUSG endorsing the issue and said she finds Recommendation 12 consistent with the university's non-discrimination policy and their principle of cura personalis.
"The reality is that there are different kinds of families in our country and when you have people in committed relationships, especially with kids, the simple equity and fairness is that they should be treated the same way that marriages are," she said.
Political science professor Christopher Wolfe said he feels the recommendation sends quite a different message, though. Wolfe was a proponent of Wisconsin's marriage amendment last fall, which banned both gay marriage and civil unions. He also testified before a state legislature committee on the issue.
"I think benefits for domestic partners sends the message that marriage doesn't matter," he said. "It goes in the face of the Catholic doctrine on marriage and family."
According to Wolfe, the MUSG decision is an "unfortunate reflection of the fact that students are more influenced by general cultural trends than by the ideals that the university professes."