By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com May 30 2014 12:56 PM ET
University of North Carolina schools have begun offering in-state tuition to the same-sex spouses of military personnel.
Jeff Womble, the director of public relations for Fayetteville State University, announced Wednesday that their school had been directed to implement this change by the UNC system, provided that the couple had wed in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.
"The guidance we have received is that active duty military service members and their spouses, without regard to whether the marriage is between persons of the same or opposite sex, qualify for in-state tuition rates as long as the marriage occurred in a jurisdiction that recognizes the relationship as a valid marriage," Womble stated in an email to the Fay Observer.
Although the voters of North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage in 2012, federal law requires public universities to offer in-state tuition to military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation. A spokesperson from the UNC system has yet to comment on this apparent change of policy.
The University of North Carolina currently enrolls more than 220,000 students across 16 campuses, including Fayetteville State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, Western Carolina University, and UNC Asheville.
Stephen Peters, the president of American Military Partner Association, which advocates for gay and lesbian military personnel and their partners, applauded this policy change.
"We applaud the leadership of the UNC system for making the right decision," Peters said in a statement. "Gay and lesbian military spouses make the same sacrifices and face the same challenges as our heterosexual counterparts, and we certainly deserve access to the same benefits. All we are asking for is to be treated the same, no more and no less."