A conservative public policy organization is asking Attorney General Greg Stumbo to provide another opinion on the constitutionality of domestic partner benefits at the University of Kentucky.
The Family Foundation of Kentucky is also considering asking for a court injunction to stop the university from implementing the benefits, which go into effect on Monday.
Stumbo’s office issued an opinion on June 1 questioning the constitutionality of the benefits of the plan. Assistant Attorney General James M. Herrick, who wrote the opinion, said the definition of “domestic partners” used by the University of Kentucky was problematic.
“The benefit is premised upon the recognition of a legal status in the two individuals that is substantially similar to marriage,” Herrick wrote.
UK reworked the plan in response to Herrick’s opinion. Under the rewritten rules, the university will allow employees to choose one “sponsored dependent” to receive benefits provided that person isn’t a relative, doesn’t already have insurance and has lived under the same roof as the employee for at least a year.
Although same-sex domestic partners would still be eligible at the same level as the original version, so too would any other adult or child even a roommate who lives in the house but doesn’t otherwise have health care.
The Family Foundation doesn’t think the university’s new approach is any more constitutional than the old one.
“It’s, from our perspective, an attempt to do the same thing that was done before, only now the cost is greater,” said Martin Cothran, the foundation’s senior policy analyst.
Several state lawmakers, including Gov. Ernie Fletcher, voiced similar concerns after the university reworked the plan.
Christina Gilgor, executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, said she’s not surprised about the continuing efforts of the Foundation to stop the plan from being implemented.
“They’ve worked relentlessly for years to block fair workplace policies,” Gilgor said. They’ll stop at nothing to put their own ideology above the well-being of Kentuckians.”
Officials at the University of Louisville, whose domestic partner plan went into effect Jan. 1, have not made any decision on whether to make changes to their eligibility requirements said spokesman John Drees.
Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com
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