Domestic Partner Benefits at the University of California

On November 21, 1997, the UC Board of Regents voted 13-12 to provide domestic partner benefits to UC employees in committed relationships who cannot marry, whether because they are of the same sex or are related by blood...

The vote was exceptionally close because of Governor Wilson's overnight appointment of two new regents (Chandler and Hotchkiss) to join Regent Ralph Ochoa, who was appointed the previous Wednesday. All three of the last-minute appointees - none of whom had yet been approved by the state senate - voted against domestic partner benefits.

According to an article by Bryan Monroe in the November 22 San Jose Mercury News, the Governor admitted that the new appointments were made to influence the vote. "Yes, it did make a difference," Wilson was quoted as saying. "It meant two more votes that could have avoided putting the university in a precarious legal position."

The Friday vote came one day after the Regents' Committee on Finance defeated a motion by Governor Wilson that would have scuttled domestic partner benefits for UC staff and students. The Committee then voted 9-3 to support health benefits for domestic partners and broadened the proposal to include others who cannot marry (e.g., employees with a live-in elderly parent). The Committee also voted unanimously to refer a recommendation on student housing for domestic partners back to the President for further development.

Wilson's energetic opposition to domestic partner benefits at the University was widely interpreted as an attempt to exploit popular prejudices to boost his presidential prospects. He also had been making new overtures to the Religious Right, a move that many analysts then regarded as a prelude to another run for the White House.

[NOTE: The comments stated above are excerpts from "Background: How the University of California Enacted Domestic Partner Benefits" which can be found at: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/HTML/dp-intro.html.

I was honored to have been asked by the UCLGBTA to testify before the Committee on Finance during Thursday's hearing. I was the highest-level, openly-out administrator within UC to testify publicly in support of domestic partner benefits. To this day, I remain extraordinarily thankful to those UC staff and faculty who worked so diligently and so tirelessly to secure domestic partner benefits.

I have made available a number of documents from my files regarding this historic occasion. They appear below.

Gerald R. Lowell
22 December 2008





Selected Documents Related to UC Domestic Partner Benefits

Statement by Gerald R. Lowell to the Committee on Finance

LA Times Article Announcing Finance Committee Vote

Associated Press Article Announcing Finance Committee Approval of Benefits)

LA Times Article Announcing Approval of Domestic Partner Benefits

Editorial by LA Times' Robert Scheer After the Approval of Benefits


Statement by Gerald R. Lowell to the Committee on Finance





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LA Times Article Announcing Finance Committee Vote





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Associated Press Article Announcing Finance Committee Approval of Benefits





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LA Times Article Announcing Approval of Domestic Partner Benefits









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Editorial by LA Times' Robert Scheer After the Approval of Benefits





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