KY Bill Would Prohibit Extension of Benefits to Domestic Partners

January 31, 2008 ( - A bill approved in the Kentucky Senate on Wednesday would prohibit public universities and other government agencies from offering health insurance to unmarried domestic partners of their employees.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the Senate signed off on the bill on a 30-5 vote after the Senate State and Local Government Committee unanimously approved it earlier in the day. The fate of the measure in the state House is unsure, as it died last year in committee.

Governor Steve Beshear has pledged to veto any measure that bans universities from offering domestic partner benefits, the Herald-Leader said. “There are things in this state that speak even louder than the governor – one of them being the people,” Cothran said, according to the news report.

Senator Ernesto Scorsone, the legislature’s only openly gay member, said he did not buy the argument by the sponsor of the legislation that it is necessary to protect the 2004 state constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

Last year, after Attorney General Greg Stumbo issued a legal opinion that university plans providing same-sex domestic partner benefits would violate the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, then-governor Ernie Fletcher summoned state lawmakers for a special legislative session to consider a ban on domestic partner insurance at state-run colleges and public agencies (See KY’s Fletcher Calls Special Legislative Session for Domestic Partner Benefits Ban ).

Stumbo’s opinion had suggested the only way of providing health benefits to the partners of unmarried employees would be to them for any dependent living with a university employee.