Letter Urges Benefits for VA Employees’ Same-Sex Partners - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Letter Urges Benefits for VA Employees’ Same-Sex Partners

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Dozens of University of Virginia students, faculty, and administrators signed on to a letter pressuring the commonwealth to extend benefits to partners of same-sex employees.

Attorney General Mark Herring now has a copy of the letter, signed by some of UVA's top administrators – with President Teresa Sullivan's name right at the top. The request is simple, but illegal under Virginia's current law.

Brendan Maupin Wynn has spent the month since graduating from UVA gathering more than 75 signatures on the letter.

“There are several people on here who are well-regarded Republicans. There are some who are outright conservatives who think it's time for fairness in terms of this particular issue for our faculty and staff,” Wynn said.

UVA deans, student leaders, and professors are unified behind Wynn's words, urging the attorney general to allow UVA to provide healthcare coverage to partners of same-sex employees.

“This is a basic fairness issue. It's an economic common sense issue,” Wynn said.

Wynn decided to write the letter after hearing a UVA employee's tearful testimony during a committee meeting that her partner cannot afford diabetic treatments because the couple can't legally marry in Virginia. “That, I think, is what hit home to me - that we can't provide that right now at a major institution with a research hospital,” Wynn said.

Sullivan has admitted the policy costs the university when it comes to recruiting and retaining faculty. In a statement to NBC29, a spokesman said, "President Sullivan believes that the current laws regarding benefits for same-sex partners places the University of Virginia and public higher education in the commonwealth at a competitive disadvantage."

Wynn wants Attorney General Herring to take action now rather than wait for a court to decide the fight for marriage equality in Virginia. “Impending marriage equality is only worthwhile if we have done everything we can to ensure that patiently waiting couples across Virginia can live to see that day,” Wynn said.

The attorney general's office says Herring believes the best solution to this issue is recognizing the right for same-sex couples to marry.

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