Universities#039; decision on #039;domestic#039; issue flawed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 3, 2004

The phrase same-sex marriage is pretty simple. No doubts about the meaning there. But lately the issue has been clouded a bit by careful use of a euphemism - domestic partner.

Needless to say, adding the label "domestic partner" doesn't soften the severe division among many Ohioans on the issue.

With the ink barely dry on the state's official ban on same-sex marriage, a number of Ohio's public universities are attempting to re-write the book, a bit, and in doing so they have enflamed a number of taxpayers.

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Last month retiring Ohio University President Robert Glidden announced the university would extend health insurance and other benefits to domestic partners.

The move wasn't intended to be a stand on the issue, Glidden said, in an Associated Press story.

"We are doing this as a matter of fundamental economic fairness," he was quoted in the article.

Call it what you will, but the issue isn't about economic fairness or universities would have extended those same benefits to heterosexual, unmarried partners years ago.

Instead university leaders chose to cave to growing pressure and fear of public protest.

Although Ohio University received the brunt of criticism for being the first to publicly change its policy, other universities were quick to follow.

"The university is not weighing in on the issue of gay marriage and gay rights," said Miami University President James Garland, in the AP article. "It's primarily a business decision."

Taking such a public stand on an as yet unresolved federal issue is tantamount to adding a stamp of approval.

The fact that public universities are funded, at least in part, by state taxpayer dollars is just a slap in the face.

The problem is how does one truly define a "domestic partner?"

Until the issue, regardless of whether you call it a domestic partnership or same-sex marriage, is resolved, recreating rules and regulations about it is ludicrous.

Why should an Ohio taxpayer who believes strongly that homosexuality is wrong have even a fraction of a penny of his or her tax dollars fund an institution that condones it?

Until the United States Supreme Court rules on the subject, state laws and university rulings do little more than anger citizens who feel the issue condones a sin. Doing so only stands to further divide our nation.

And it doesn't take a university degree to see that.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445, ext. 12 or by e-mail to kevin.cooper@irontontribune.com.