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Civil Unions Discussion Nov. 13

November 7, 2007

The President’s Commission on the Status of GLBT issues invites you to an open meeting Tuesday, Nov. 13, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in MUB 334 - 336 to discuss the impact of civil unions in New Hampshire on USNH employees, and how a requirement to form a civil union might affect your ability to access USNH benefits. Refreshments will be served.

Present at this meeting will be representatives from USNH and UNH Human Resources and USNH general counsel’s office. They and the President’s Commission want to hear your issues and concerns about this issue. If you are unable to attend, you can direct any comments/questions to the commission co-chairs: Cari Moorhead (cari.moorhead@unh.edu) or Judy Spiller (judy.spiller@unh.edu).

Effective Jan. 1, 2008, civil unions become legal in New Hampshire. While in many respects this will be an exciting moment for the GLBT community and, hopefully, a significant step toward marriage equality, implementation, potentially requiring those employees wishing USNH partner benefits to obtain a New Hampshire civil union, it raises many questions for faculty and staff, currently or potentially eligible for domestic partner benefits.

Among the challenges and issues is the timing of any proposed change – particularly given the absence to date of New Hampshire guidelines on the law. Another relates to whether those living in states that already offer civil unions or marriage will automatically receive reciprocity from the state and USNH. At the other end of the spectrum, it is unclear what might happen to benefits for those living in states that don’t recognize civil unions. Further, there are situations where entering into a NH civil union might create a significant hardship: those with partners in the military; those seeking an international adoption in some countries; those not US citizens; and those working only briefly for a USNH unit, who, if then moving to a new state, would have difficulty dissolving a New Hampshire union.

Civil unions are yet to be time-tested. Same-sex civil unions, registered domestic partnerships and marriage – all steps in the right direction – still do not afford the same privileges, rights and protections as does opposite sex marriage. Legislative reversal in New Hampshire and others states that offer civil unions, registered domestic partnerships or marriage to same sex couples, could sweep them away. These factors, and those mentioned above, suggest the need for a deliberative approach to any change in USNH policies, affecting same sex partner benefits.

*Reminder: Tuesday, Nov. 13, follows a Monday class schedule.

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