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The Daily Tar Heel

Gay faculty at UNC receive health care for spouses

The announcement came after Judge Max Cogburn, Jr., a District Court Judge in North Carolina, ruled the state’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Oct. 10, according to a press release from UNC spokeswoman Karen Moon.

Coverage can begin as early as Nov. 1 for same-sex marriages performed before Oct. 13. Marriages performed after Oct. 13 will be regarded as qualifying events, the same policy as for opposite-sex marriages.

Ashley Nicklis, senior director of benefits and work/life programs in human resources, said health care benefits are not the first benefit for same-sex spouses to receive through UNC.

“UNC-Chapel Hill has historically offered coverage to partners under our dental, life and (accidental death and dismemberment) plans,” she said in an email.

Nicklis said the ruling on Oct. 13 allowed health benefits to be offered for same-sex spouses.

“When Judge Cogburn issued his order on Friday overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, it opened the door for us to begin offering the state employees’ benefit packages — including health insurance — to same-sex spouses,” she said.

Nicklis said there are no changes to the benefit plans themselves — the only difference is the plans now allow same-sex spouses to receive coverage.

“This applies not only to legal marriages performed in North Carolina but in other states as well,” Nicklis said.

Faculty Chairman Bruce Cairns said this is a monumental ruling.

“This has been a long-standing issue for the University community,” he said.

Cairns said several faculty members are passionate about same-sex benefits. He also commented on his surprise at how quickly the ruling was made for what he called a historical occasion.

Cairns said the extended benefits will enhance the University’s ability to recruit faculty.

“Having this kind of support allows us to recruit the best and brightest,” he said.

Cairns said these sorts of benefits help create an appealing environment for potential employees. He feels as though this ruling has affected various aspects of the University, particularly when it comes to contending with other top-tier schools.

Nicklis said there will be no discrimination when it comes to benefits.

“All married couples will be treated equally,” she said.

Cairns said the faculty has responded positively to the news.

“Everyone has embraced this and supports it.”

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