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University of Missouri System To Offer Health Care Benefits To Same-Sex Couples

(via Flickr/Adam Procter)
"The Columns" on Francis Quadrangle at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.

This story will be updated. Corrected at 12:30 p.m. to reflect when the vote was taken.

Employees of the University of Missouri system will now be able to include their same-sex partner on their medical, dental and retirement plans.

The system's Board of Curators approved the benefit changes yesterday, the conclusion of an effort that began in 2011.  A couple would have to be living together for at least a year in order to be eligible.

"This was the right thing to do, but long overdue," Zuleyma Tang-Martinez, a biology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis said in a statement.  “This is something we have fought for and waited for, for more than 20 years. I am thrilled that the university has finally recognized that granting domestic partner benefits levels the playing field for all its employees and will also enhance the university’s ability to attract the best national and international scholars, regardless of their sexual orientation."

Board of Curators president Wayne Goode agreed, saying in his own statement that he believed expanding health care benefits would also help employees be more productive.

The board also approved language that brings the UM system in line with the requirements of President Obama's health care overhaul, which requires insurance coverage for all employees working at least 30 hours.

In addition, the governing board met behind closed doors this morning to begin the search for a new chancellor at the Columbia campus. Brady Deaton announced on Wednesday that he will retire in November to become the executive director of a new research center bearing his name: the Brady and Ann Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

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