Temple University will soon become the first public university in Pennsylvania to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees. The policy will apply to the 2,100 white-collar staff, faculty, and graduate students who are represented by a union, or nearly 40% of Temple's full-time employees, university officials said Friday.
The new benefit will help keep the school competitive and won't cost Temple or the state any extra money, Temple president David Adamany said. "We have to compete against the best public and private universities in the country," Adamany told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "If we are going to compete for the very best in scientific and technical fields, the kind of people that industry would like to hire, we have to have a comparable benefit program." Adamany doesn't think Temple's decision--which came during months of union negotiations--will necessarily lead other state-related schools to follow suit.
At Penn State a private fund set up by an anonymous donor has enabled three employees to sign up for domestic-partner benefits, a spokesman said. And Drexel University, a private school, recently decided to extend such benefits to its workers. The University of Pittsburgh has been battling a lawsuit by seven gay and lesbian workers since 1996. Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, who represent the plaintiffs suing Pitt, applauded Temple's decision.
Some state lawmakers said they may try to punish Temple for its decision. "I know I, for one, as will a number of my colleagues, advance the position that we should defund them totally," said state representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry). Temple, with 33,000 students, receives part of its annual budget from the legislature.