Proudly stepping out into the community...

October 27, 2000

Dennis (sic) J. Walsh
Associate Professor
Department of Management
Miami University

Dear Professor Walsh:

I am responding to your request for an update on the status of domestic partner benefits.As you know, there have been ongoing conversations on this topic for several years, and we have compiled a large amount of information on the issue.Officially the position of the university continues to be that we cannot adopt a domestic partner benefit program in the absence of Ohio legislation which grants legal status to domestic partner unions.This is the same position held by my predecessor, Paul Risser.

Unofficially, we have continued to test the waters on this topic with other Ohio university presidents, elected officials, etc. The consensus of opinion among all groups is that it would be inadvisable to raise this topic formally. Even among persons who support the concept, there is continuing concern about creating a backlash against gay and lesbian rights generally.The fear is that the strong conservative movement in Ohio opposed to expanding gay rights would seize on any opportunity to mobilize support to their cause.

We are particularly concerned about Ohio Senate Bill 240, which would specifically prohibit domestic partner unions. It is my understanding that this "defense of marriage" bill is currently in committee. Our observers report that it is likely to remain there in the absence of a rallying movement to advance it. We don't know the impact of the forthcoming election on this bill, but it seems clear that the General Assembly is likely to become even more conservative.

I personally support domestic partner benefits, as do the large majority of senior administrative officers at the university, and I would move quickly to recommend such benefits to the trustees as soon as state law recognizes domestic partner unions. However, in this absence of legislation, and in the current political environment, I believe that raising this topic would not only be futile but would have a strong adverse impact on the university.

James C. Garland