University of Texas to offer benefits to same-sex families

University of Texas tower
UT Main Building Tower

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Beginning Wednesday, faculty and staff at the University of Texas will be eligible for same-sex benefits. Texas Employees Group Benefits Program announced Monday it would begin enrollment July 1 for same-sex spouses and dependent children of those spouses.

It’s a moment University of Texas Professor Kate Dawson says she has been waiting to see for a long time.

“I really wasn’t able to breathe until I saw [President Greg Fenves’] Tweet on Friday that said we’re working with UT Systems on benefits.”

And now, just days later, the UT journalism professor will soon be able to add her wife, Jen, to her insurance plan. The couple married seven years ago in Massachusetts and dreamed of the day their marriage would be recognized here in Texas.

“I was incredibly happy, but on top of that it was wondering, ‘What’s going to happen with our health insurance benefits?'”

And they do not have to worry anymore. Every penny saved will help their twin 5-year-old girls.

“We will save now $150 a month, at least, by having her on my insurance. I teach as well — if not better — than anybody else. I work as hard — if not harder — than anybody else at that school, and I care as much about the students. So why should I not be given the same benefits? ” Dawson added.

The campus’ Human Resources Department told KXAN it spent the weekend upgrading its computer systems and getting everything ready to begin the process. Faculty and staff employed by the University will have 31 days to enroll.

“If they’re not married yet and they go ahead and choose to get married, they’ll have 31 days from the date of their marriage to enroll in benefits,” added Adrienne Howarth-Moore, with UT’s Human Resources Department.

“It’s our life … and UT is a huge part of our life, and now I feel like we’re finally full citizens,” said Dawson.

A new form is already online for applicants to fill out.

“They can sign up for medical, dental, vision, life … all the same amenities we currently provide,” Moore added.

This change also affects retirees who are part of an insurance plan and who want to enroll their partner in that plan.

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