The following is the text of a Family Foundation press release with my comments being sent out to the state media today:
LEXINGTON, KY—“The decision by the Board of Trustees of the University of Louisville to approve domestic partner benefits puts an important tax-supported state institution in the position of undermining marriage,” said Martin Cothran of The Family Foundation of Kentucky. “U of L has now divorced itself from the idea that marriage should be encouraged.”
The University of Louisville Board of Trustees voted 14-1 today to approve domestic partner benefits for its employees, making it the first public university in Kentucky to do so.
“The one thing we know without any shadow of a doubt is that marriage is beneficial to society,” said Cothran. “Not only is this common sense, but the social science research on it is unequivocal. The only reason government (or any other institution) gives special privileges to married couples is because of this fact. This decision by U of L puts the state’s second most significant state university on record in opposition to the idea that marriage should be encouraged. Half of our social problems stem from the weakening of marriages. U of L has now placed itself in the position of weakening it further.
“This puts the university squarely on the wrong side of the most important social policy issue of our time,” said Cothran.
Two years ago, the University of Kentucky attempted to pass a similar policy, only to be rebuffed by several conservative state senators, who objected to the idea. “We believe legislators still know how their constituents would feel about their tax money going to encourage non-marital live-in relationships.”
Supporters of the measure argued that it would help attract and retain good employees. “It is simply beyond the bounds of credibility to say that there are not enough competent teachers and administrators out there who are living in married relationships. This is an unfounded assertion. There isn’t even enough evidence for it to count as an argument."
Cothran said The Family Foundation is considering its options in the next legislative session. “Our message to policy makers will be that any taxpayer-supported institution that does not treat marriage as a privileged institution should not itself be treated as a privileged institution.”