Texas A&M University has found a defiant way to market itself to gay professors. Despite the state’s ban on gay marriage, the university’s faculty senate passed a resolution to extend health benefits to same sex partners by a vote of 59 to 1.
Under Texas insurance code, only a “spouse and/or child” qualifies as a dependent, but proponents contend the school has the power to interpret the word “dependent” however its insurance needs require. And because 23 of the nation’s top 25 U.S. universities (as identified by U.S. News & World Report) offer such benefits, the faculty senate contends Texas A&M must follow suit to remain competitive.
Because I’ve earned two degrees and spent 7 years of my life at Texas A&M, this matter is close to my heart. I vividly remember 10 years ago when the school was named the “Least Gay-Friendly Public University” in the country and how the student body overwhelmingly reacted with a sense of pride to this distinction. And while the student body is still quite possibly the most conservative campus in the nation, the faculty remains a bastion of progress and tolerance.
Despite the school’s conservative tilt, I have many fond memories of my time in Bryan-College Station due in large part to the excellent faculty and their influence in and around the community. I salute the faculty senate in this bold move and hope the faculty’s overwhelming support is enough of an indication to state lawmakers that the resolution is in the best interest of all Texans.