October, 1993 The City University of New York


The CUNY Study Group on Domestic Partnerships, constituted during Spring 1993, was charged with examining the issue of providing University benefits to the domestic partners of lesbian and gay CUNY employees.

The Study Group investigated current practices and procedures of various municipalities, universities, and private industry firms; reviewed comparable experiences of diverse employers elsewhere; and reviewed the pertinent literature in this newly emerging area of employee relations.

While the Study Group was reviewing employee benefits currently available to CUNY employees, it became readily apparent that the weight of employee interest and social equity concerns lay in the areas of health insurance benefits and time & leave benefits. Accordingly, Study Group discussions and subsequent research efforts were concentrated in these two areas. Fiscal analyses were also prepared to assess the potential impact of a change in practices.

The CUNY Study Group on Domestic Partnerships, in its Report to the Chancellor, provides an analysis of current trends that are supportive of extending bereavement leave, family leave, and full health insurance benefits to lesbian and gay CUNY employees who have a same-sex domestic partner, should the Chancellor choose to do so. The Study Group also imbeds its analysis in a rationale that the University has an abiding commitment to fair and equitable treatment of its employees.

The Report of The CUNY Study Group on Domestic Partnerships follows herewith.

The City University of New York

Report of the Domestic Partnership Study Group for The City University of New York

September, 1993 ". . . significant changes in our society have resulted in the creation of diverse living arrangements and the development of an expanded concept of the family unit." Mayor David Dinkins from "Executive Order No. 48," 7 January 1993

"We are becoming more aware of the complexity and diversity of the American Family ..... family life today encompasses a wide range of lifestyles and living arrangements. Households are comprised of two working parents, a single parent, a step parent or parents, foster families, extended families, unmarried couples living together, lesbian and gay couples with and without children, and one-person households." Lambda Legal Detense

I. Introduction

In the Spring of 1993 at the request of Chancellor W. Ann Reynolds, the Office of Faculty and Staff Relations convened two study groups to review the current status of benefits for the domestic partners of lesbian and gay employees in universities, municipalities, and corporations.

Study Group Members (listed in Attachment A) were generally surprised at the substantial and growing number of institutions with experience in this matter. There is a large volume of materials now available on domestic partners benefits, expediting the investigative work of the CUNY study groups and providing far more background than had been anticipated.

The members of these study groups have been gratified by their participation in this study. For both heterosexual and homosexual study group members this has been a reassuring experience of commonality. The process has caused to surface once again, the importance of communication in dissolving the categories that often divide us.

Finally, the charge to the benefits study groups was to limit consideration to those employees "who are excluded by law from forming family partnerships due to their sexual orientation." That restriction is observed by many corporations and universities, though not often by municipalities.

Like other such study groups and review boards, we conclude that extending health insurance and time & leave benefits to same sex domestic partners who are otherwise prohibited by law from marriage, is a policy wholly consistent with the University's nondiscrimination policy and one that would manifest the University's abiding commitment to fair and equitable treatment. Indeed, CUNY's ultimate goal with regard to same-sex domestic partners should be equal access to all employee benefits.

II. Rationale

Both The City of New York and The City University of New York have articulated nondiscrimination policies concerning sexual orientation and preference--policies often at odds with the existing practices of using marital status and, by implication, sexual orientation or preference as determinants in providing benefits paid for by all but available in full only to some. The analysis provided in this document is buttressed by a commitment to fairness and equity which would bring practices in packaging and parcelling benefits, especially health benefits, into conformity with the City's and the University's nondiscrimination policies.

When the Stanford University Report was completed and submitted in June of 1992, it acknowledged that "only one school to date, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has extended health coverage to domestic partners of faculty and staff," yet speculated:

"We think there is a substantial chance that within five to ten years, such coverage will be standard for many employers, including universities."

Such hope was fostered by the fact that Stanford could already catalogue twenty-seven employers that had extended, or agreed to extend, health care to domestic partners, including on the West Coast cities from Seattle to Laguna Beach and on the East Coast employers as diverse as The Village Voice and Montefiore Medical Center. Moreover, even if universities had not extended health benefits, they had, in various instances, offered sick, bereavement, and parental leave, as well as access to library, recreational and health facilities, not to mention tuition reductions and waivers. Health benefits, then, are predictably a next step in the formation of a new policy. And already the quotation cited above seems to have predictive power.

Stanford took the lead. Other universities, now travelling the same ground and encountering similar problems, are reaching like conclusions. The principal issue here is making practice comply with policy. The powerful arguments, rooted in ethics, appeal to fairness, equity, and what President Clinton calls a "sense of shared humanity." Especially within the context of the University, which, quite apart from its teaching and research functions, is both a moral force and authority in society, humane considerations and ethical imperatives can, we believe, finally overrule transitory political and social concerns. And by and large they have as university after university, occupying this high moral ground, has reaffirmed its commitment to nondiscriminatory policies by making letter conform to spirit.

The City University of New York, because of the huge gay and lesbian community in this city, is peculiarly suited to visit this issue, as a number of other institutions now have. Other institutions of higher education that have already adopted policies for domestic partners include Harvard University, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Carnegie-Mellon University and Clark University; and public institutions like The University of California at Berkeley and The University of Iowa. Even as The City University commences its review of all the issues that health benefits for domestic partners entail, Columbia University is finalizing its plan and The University of Pennsylvania is moving toward completion of a document that, presumably, like Columbia's urges the extension of health and other benefits to domestic partners. New York City, perhaps more than any other, emblematizes the changed realities and circumstances that, in turn, have effected a redefinition of family with domestic partners now included within its larger embrace.

"Courage and commitment and . . . sense of community" -- these are, for President Clinton, the defining features of gays and lesbians, who have stood steadfast and strong " in the face of all the government opposition and discrimination and killing and silence." One way of ending such discrimination -- of inching the world toward a vision that includes gays and lesbians within a newly defined cultural community--is to reconsider policies and practices of exclusion based on sexual orientation; is to reconceptualize the idea of family so that it includes domestic partners and makes available to them benefits previously reserved for and restricted to traditional marriages of heterosexual couples. Everyone gains, for communities are more productive as they become more inclusive. And The City University of New York, which through another kind of initiative, namely the establishment at its Graduate School and University Center of The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS), has taken an important lead in combating homophobia by encouraging exploration and articulation of the lesbian and gay experience; by sponsoring and promoting cutting-edge scholarship to enlarge thereby the boundaries of academic discourse; and by thus lifting human consciousness to a new plateau of understanding, in the very process developing new and liberating sensitivities. This University's intellectual enterprise provides strong argument that it now bring its practices into conformity with its policies; that through its ethical posture it free gay and lesbian people to lead their lives according to the truth of their hearts; that it provide such rudimentary means for empowering and sustaining same-sex relationships as are currently available to those living within the institution of marriage.

III. Experiences of Business, Municipal and Academic Institutions in Offering Domestic Partner Health Insurance Benefits

While the notion of availability of insurance benefits for domestic partners remains little more than a topic of debate in many organizations, an increasing number of employers have moved to provide these benefits. Representing private industry, non-profit organizations,institutions of higher education, and civil municipalities, these employers have since the 1980's broadened their definitions of eligibility for benefits and then sought to implement programs more in step with stated policies. Of utmost importance is that these organizations have been able to document their individual experiences, offering important data for other institutions interested in redressing benefit inequities related to sexual orientation. That is, a historical perspective has developed upon which other employers may check critical points of debate, particularly with regard to cost. Overwhelmingly, pioneering organizations have done much to dispel claims that implementation of a domestic partner benefits program could neither be accomplished nor administered in a cost-effective manner.

The following sections examine the experiences of extending insurance benefits to domestic partners at both non-academic and academic institutions. An increasing number of universities have pursued the lead of municipalities and business, with much the same--or better--results.


Cities that have extended employee benefits to domestic partners have done so in fulfillment of a specific policy which recognizes them as spousal equivalents or because of a broader non-discrimination policy regarding sexual orientation. Most of these municipalities-- including Berkeley, Cambridge, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Seattle--recognize both unmarried opposite-sex and same-sex partnerships. 1 As a rule, municipalities offering these benefits define the term domestic partners broadly, that is same-sex and opposite-sex, and require some form of documentation which establishes the "bona-fide" nature of a relationship before benefits can be extended. 2 This prevents the occurrence of fraud. In their report on domestic partnerships the National Center for Lesbian Rights lists fraud and financial risk to be the two main concerns of insurers. 3 Since the incidence of claims abuses has not been found to be any greater because of the extension of insurance benefits to same-sex couples, 4 the most relevant question remains, then, that of cost. Despite available evidence, many institutions continue to hold that costs would be adversely affected if partners of lesbians and gay men were insured--mostly, according to HMO Magazine, because of the incidence of AIDS among gay men and "expected domestic partner pregnancies" among lesbians. 5

The experiences of Seattle, San Francisco and other municipalities refute these expectations. In instituting domestic partnership benefits the City of Seattle, for example, purposely calculated risk factors conservatively, fearing a deluge of costly claims. In actuarial terms the risk figure assigned was 1.59, set high to brace for a worst-case scenario. This figure translates as a hypothetical per member per month increase from $100 to $159--a total annual increase of $708 per $100 per month contribution. The actual increase turned out to be much lower than expected. The actuarial risk figure was 0.02 for the first year and 0.028 for the first half of 1993. 6

With regard to types of enrollment, HMO Magazine reports that 75 percent of enrollees in Seattle (as of fall 1991) were opposite-sex couples, and that few children were added, only 15 in conjunction with the total of 190 employees signing up for the new benefits. 7 It is unlikely that these 15 children belonged only to the 25 percent of same-sex couples enrolling, and unlikely that they belonged solely to lesbian couples.

In the City of Seattle case, the increase in new enrollees was offset slightly when the IRS ruled that domestic partnership coverage was a taxable benefit, causing some disenrollment. Thus although the City braced itself for an onslaught of new enrollees and claims by initiating a premium increase to individual employees, it found the increase unnecessary and was later induced to reverse it. 8 Cities such as Berkeley and San Francisco, operating on the same assumptions as Seattle, also experienced increased premiums initially but then reversed them when their data proved increases to be unwarranted. In part because it had data from these cities on which to base its calculations, the City of Cambridge resisted the urge to increase premiums. Moreover, for the City of Santa Cruz only one of the four plans available to the City, HCHP, has increased its premiums.

Thus, statistics indicate that an insurer's claims exposure is not any more detrimental when same-sex partners, or even same-sex couples combined with unmarried opposite-sex couples, are covered than when married heterosexual couples alone are covered. Refuting the fears expressed in HMO Magazine, a more recent article in the New York Times indicates that, based on experience data, "the actual cost of enrolling a [domestic] partner is less than for a married spouse." Moreover, quoting Andrew D. Sherman, vice president of the Segal Company, a consultant firm for insurance benefits, it contends that "The single most expensive medical cost is pregnancy-related... [and d]omestic partners are statistically less likely to get pregnant." 9


Like their municipal counterparts, businesses offering domestic partnership benefits have tended overwhelmingly to offer them to both opposite- and same-sex couples, unlike academic institutions which have thus far offered them to same-sex couples exclusively. 10 The Village Voice union was the first in the nation to fight for and obtain these benefits, which they have had since July 1982. 11 Significantly, "because of a proven actuarial record," Group Health Insurance (GHI) of New York City agreed to insure Voice employees (management excluded) as of July 1992. 12 Complications with the present benefits, which are paid in full by the Voice, relate to the fact that domestic partners are insured as individuals instead of families under traditional rubrics, causing a lack of coverage for two children--a problem still being negotiated. The Voice reports 15 of a possible 226 eligible employees enrolling their domestic partners (as of 1992), with no cases of fraud. 13

The Lotus Corporation instituted similar benefits in 1991. Using the term "spousal equivalents" in order to draw attention to the fact that employees in same-sex partnerships "do not have the choice to legalize permanent and exclusive relationships through marriage," 14 the company does not offer domestic partnership resources at Lotus points out that "data indicate that coverage of employees and their same-sex partners has not significantly increased . . . per capita health care expenses. Fears that AIDS will drive up costs have proved to be unfounded." 15 As of 1992, only 12 of its 3,000 employees had enrolled for the benefits, which include medical, dental, vision, hearing, life insurance, relocation and bereavement leave. Like the Levi Strauss company, which instituted a similar policy in 1992, employee insurance premiums were raised as a result of the change in policy.

The enrollment experiences of the Voice and Lotus parallel those of Montefiore Medical Center, Ben and Jerry's and Levi Strauss, all of which report a lower enrollment rate and fewer claims than expected. Montefiore extends its benefits to same-sex couples only, and like Ben and Jerry's did not experience a raise in insurance premiums. Levi-Strauss, with 23,000 employees, experienced a 0.6 percent increase in enrollment and raised individual employee premiums. 16


Like the municipalities and businesses discussed above, academic institutions extending benefits have tended to overestimate enrollment and cost projections. The institutions discussed here pursued extending domestic partnership benefits based primarily on ethical considerations, during times of pressing budgetary exigencies. None viewed their fiscal problems as a reason to ignore non-discrimination policies already in place.

A. University of Chicago

The beneficiary of other universities' experiences with domestic partnership benefits, the University of Chicago revised its benefit policies as of February 1, 1993. 17 Eligible are same-sex couples who complete a Statement of Domestic Partnership form. Children of university employees and those of their domestic partners are covered under health and dental plans (not to mention several other benefits, among them tuition remission and scholarships). Medical coverage is possible under any one of the four plans offered by Chicago. The University reports that as of July 1, 1993, sixteen employees have availed themselves of health insurance benefits coverage. The University of Chicago employs 6,200 persons.

B. Harvard University

A committee began looking at the feasibility of domestic partnership benefits in October, 1992, and a report recommending extension of full benefits to same-sex couples was issued in early 1993. This report discusses the limited nature of experience data on cost and administration of benefits, but asserts that the data that do exist are consistent and reliable. 18

At the time the report was issued, Harvard paid 85 percent of total employee health and 70 percent of dental insurance costs of its 10,400 active employees for a total of $45 million each year. About 5,500 faculty and staff chose individual coverage and 4,900 chose family coverage. In order to give substance to Harvard's nondiscrimination policy, which prohibits the discrimination of individuals based on their sexual orientation, the committee recommended offering same-sex partners and their dependents the same coverage available to legally married couples.

Based on the experiences of other universities, municipalities and businesses, the committee predicted an enrollment increase in family coverage in the range of 0.2 to 1.0 percent. The 1.0 percent figure is considered high, based on the experiences of the universities of Chicago, Iowa and Stanford which witnessed an increase of 0.1, 0.2 and 0.2 percent respectively after offering coverage to same-sex couples. Based on this percentage range, the cost to Harvard was expected to be between $78,000 and $390,000.

The committee urged the university to "negotiate forcefully" with its health insurers to provide domestic partner coverage without a premium increase, arguing that "an increasing number of major carriers are willing to underwrite domestic partners health benefits coverage." The program is slated to begin in fall, 1993.

C. University of Iowa

One of the first universities in the country to undertake a thorough examination of the literature on full coverage for same-sex couples, the Iowa committee saw such implementation as "a humane and equitable response to community members who live in stable longterm relationships." 19 Like other universities, Iowa recommended that extension of coverage be to same-sex couples only.

Because of the paucity of information at the time, the Iowa committee relied solely on domestic partnership data from municipalities and the private sector, as well as demographic information published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the time the report was written, the university paid $132.90 per month for benefits per single employee and $255.44 per month per family. With this information it generated best- and worst-case scenarios to be instanced by an enrollment shift, estimating the increase to be anywhere from 2.6 to 8.3 percent, at an annual cost to the university of $322,408 to $1,029,227.

Being a pioneer at the time and therefore subject to a great deal of speculations, the high range estimate related specifically in the Iowa case to fears of AIDS-related costs in extending benefits to gay men. Nevertheless the committee insisted on heeding what information there was, concluding that "fears about adverse selection among domestic partners and catastrophic AIDS claims have not been borne out by the experience of employers offering domestic partnership coverage." 20

The committee's best- and worse-case enrollment scenarios, which ignore the experience of the City of San Francisco, projected the increase to be in the 2.6 to 8.3 percent range. The San Francisco report projected a 1.9 percent increase in insurance enrollment but, as the Harvard report indicates, found the actual increase to be only 0.5 percent. The actual increase in enrollment for Iowa was 0.2 percent, far lower than the 2.6 to 8.3 percent projection. 21

D. Princeton University

Princeton's examination of benefits for lesbian and gay employees preceded the Iowa study, and though it makes the same recommendations to extend benefits it differs in the way it stresses first and foremost ethical over economic considerations as a reason for redressing discrimination. Although it raises the issue of cost differential, the main tenor of the report is to move past the question "Do We Discriminate?" The Princeton committee sought to devise remedies for what it saw as blatant discrimination as well as plot the quickest means of remedying the problem. Moreover, they sought to insure as much as possible against benefits abuse. Again the Harvard study, written over two years after Princeton's, dismisses fears of fraud, asserting that "Employers offering family health benefits to domestic partners have uniformly reported no problems with ineligible individuals taking advantage of domestic partnership benefits. 22 Princeton University is currently engaged in a comprehensive study of health insurance benefits. It does not anticipate including domestic partnership coverage until new contracts are negotiated. Leave benefits, however, are now extended to employees with domestic partners.

E. Stanford University

The Stanford study combines the several concerns voiced in the Princeton and Iowa reports and attempts to assess possible rate changes along with HMO supplemental costs and dental costs, and it factors into this discussion whether or not a change in the university policy would attract faculty and staff solely because of a new domestic partnership benefit offering. It weighs these considerations with a general trend toward university downsizing and a concomitant interest in domestic partnership benefits in both the public and business sectors-that is, the effect of increased availability of domestic partnership benefits elsewhere on the number of those interested in the same from the university.

As stated earlier, the Harvard report places actual increase in enrollment at 0.2 percent. Unlike Chicago and Iowa Universities, Stanford faculty were subject to an increase in insurance premiums, although the report doesn't specify the amount of the increase and whether the increase was related specifically to the availability of domestic partnership benefits.


The most salient trend noticeable (see Attachment "E") when comparing projections with actual increases in insurance usage is that far fewer utilize the benefits than originally projected. 23 Of the fifteen institutions analyzed in the Harvard study, the average increase in usage among those institutions extending coverage to same-sex couples only is 0.3 percent (for universities the average is 0.17; for hospitals plus the Lotus Corporation the average is 0.33).

The highest usage occurs when benefits are extended to opposite- and same-sex couples. The City of Berkeley saw a 7.9 percent increase in usage, for example, while the cities of Cambridge, Santa Cruz and Seattle saw increases of 1.9, 2.8 and 2.8 percent, respectively. Accordingly, the Village Voice and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream experienced 7.8 and 4.0 percent increases respectively. The average increase in enrollment was 3.4 when benefits were extended to same- and opposite-sex couples overall.

Nine of the sixteen institutions surveyed by the Harvard report avoided premium increases, even when the shift in enrollment totalled 7.8 and 7.9 percent, for the Voice and the City of Berkeley respectively. Of these nine, four were self-insured and did not offer benefits under HMO plans. Three of the six institutions that experienced premium increases subsequently had them reversed.

The Harvard report, like the New York Times article, responds to the fears expressed in the Iowa study about catastrophic AIDS-related claims by pointing out that such claims are "no higher than the cost associated with other serious illnesses, such as cancer, kidney dysfunction, or heart disease." 24 Moreover, the report points out that at the present time lesbians are still considered to be at an "extremely low risk of HIV infection" and that the rate among gay men has stabilized or decreased. 25

The National Center for Lesbian Rights report also discusses this point, indicating that AIDS is no different than any other family-related illness insurers are expected to cover. Moreover it points out that "Lesbian and gay employees, as single persons, have helped to subsidize the health costs of heterosexual employees and their families for many years", 26 and that this imbalance needs to be redressed. They, like the Harvard committee, argue that the number of lesbians and gays taking advantage of domestic partner benefits is in no way prohibitive.

IV. Experience of Business, Municipal and Academic Institutions In Providing Domestic Partner Leave Benefits


As with the area of health benefits summarized above, an increasing number of employers have made certain types of leave benefits inclusive of domestic partners. While health care coverage has been subject to greater debate, largely over perceived cost issues, leave eligibility has been viewed as having less financial impact on employers and thus more easily extended. In fact, a number of employers that have yet to act in the area of health benefits for domestic partners have instituted a variety of leave benefits for their employees who have domestic partners. A good example is the City of New York.

Not surprisingly, the same issues discussed in the earlier health benefits section of this report -- especially equity and good employee relations -- also argue for the provision of leave benefits as well. Employers provide benefits to employees in recognition of the real social and economic needs that must be met if employees are to remain active and productive in the workforce. These needs include periodic leaves of absence, as recognized in the new Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, and bereavement leave. There is no evidence that lesbian and gay employees living in domestic partnerships have less need than married employees to care for and mourn the loss of their partners.

The following sections describe the experiences of extending various leave benefits (especially bereavement leave) to employees with domestic partners at both academic and non-academic institutions.


Some municipalities, such as Ann Arbor, Michigan, began by providing domestic partner benefits, including bereavement and parental leave associated with domestic partners and their children, to non-union workers only. However, most cities with leave benefits related to domestic partners provide benefits to all employees. In some cases these benefits were established through collective bargaining; in some cases, the benefits were adopted by a city council, and in the case of The City of New York, by Executive Order of the Mayor. The City of Los Angeles, for example, having failed to pass a provision in the city council, now provides leave benefits only to those city employees whose union has opted for such benefits. 27

Bereavement leave seems to be the most commonly cited leave benefit provided to employees with domestic partners; use of accumulated sick leave for the care of a domestic partner is also frequently cited by those municipalities with domestic partner benefits. In contrast, The City of New York which does provide bereavement leave for domestic partners limits the use of sick leave to the employee's own illness.

The surveys available to us were all conducted prior to the passage of the Federal Family and Medical Leave act (FMLA); thus no mention is made of this important legislation. While that law does not specifically include domestic partners, the Federal guidelines are clear that employers may extend the provisions of the law to such partners. Presumably the employers who have recognized domestic partnership for other leave purposes will do so for this new legislation. To date, there is no issuance from The City of New York regarding FMLA. CUNY's own FMLA guidelines are currently being drafted and may address domestic partners. Most employees will not be covered by this legislation until February 5, 1994.

In almost all cases, there is a requirement to register a domestic partnership with the employer in order to acquire eligibility for any benefits, including leaves of absences. Sometimes there is mandatory waiting period prior to being eligible to use the leave benefit.


The survey information from the National Center for Lesbian Rights is often silent on the subject of leave benefits in businesses. We do not believe this is because these companies, many of which (e.g. Levi Strauss and Lotus Development Corporation) are cited as providing health benefits for domestic partners, exclude lesbian and gay employees from bereavement and other leave benefits. Rather, it appears that such policies were not uniformly surveyed. Also, in some private corporations these leave categories may be less formal: one indicated, for example, that despite the absence of a policy, no one would be denied leave to care for a partner or due to the death of a partner.


The list of colleges and universities providing a variety of domestic partner benefits continues to grow. As this report was being written, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University were all nearing the decision to extend such leave benefits. New York University, like The City University, is empaneling a study group. Harvard University officially announced coverage for both leave and health coverage this summer. A list of employers who provide benefits to domestic partners is included as Attachment "C" at the end of this report.

V. Recommendations Regarding Leave Benefits

In light of the equity concerns cited above and of the favorable experience of other employers, the study group charged with reviewing University leave policies and their relation to University employees with registered, same-sex domestic partners recommends the University consider the following actions:



to the Report of the Domestic Partnership Study Group for The City University of New York

                     ON DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS


Mr. Samuel T. Phillips - University Personnel Director

Members: Health Insurance Benefits Group

Dr. Blanche W. Cook       John Jay College
Ms. Melanie Corpuz        University Benefits Office
Mr. John Green            University Budget Office
Dr. Ann P. Haas           Lehman College
Mr. John Mascola          University Personnel Office
Dr. Don Mengay            Baruch College
Mr. Daniel O'Connell      University Benefits Office
Ms. Maxine Rothenberg     Queens College
Dr. Joseph Wittreich      Graduate School & University Center

Members: Time & Leave Benefits Group

Ms. Gloria Garcia         The College of Staten Island
Dr. Louis Gioia           Baruch College
Ms. Norma Goodman         Medgar Evers College
Mr. John Green            University Budget Office
Dr. Bert Hansen           Baruch College
Ms. Rosemarie O'Rourke    University Personnel Office
Dr. Roland Yoshida        Queens College


to the Report of the Domestic Partnership Study Group for the City University of New York


The Study Group recommends that the University make available to the colleges and CUNY units domestic partner relationship administrative forms. These forms would be used by eligible employees who wish to receive CUNY domestic partnership benefits.

Form OFSR-651a, Statement of Domestic Partnership, would serve as the CUNY registration form. The form would be completed by the employee, providing employee name, social security number, college. The employee would also provide the name and social security number of the domestic partner. The form itself is to be signed, dated, and notarized, and the original is filed with the college Personnel office. In addition to including a definition of eligible domestic partner relationship, the form on its reverse side delineates those documents deemed acceptable for verifying the domestic partner relationship.

Form OFSR-651b, Domestic Partner Dependent Enrollment, would serve as the enrollment form that a CUNY employee would use to register for benefits the eligible dependent(s) of the domestic partner. The form would be completed by the employee, providing name, social security number, college, and date. The employee also provides the name of the domestic partner, as well as the name, birth date, and sex of the domestic partner's eligible child(ren). The form itself is signed and dated, and the original is filed with the college Personnel office. The form includes a definition of eligible child(ren) of the domestic partner.

Form OFSR-651c, Termination of Domestic Partnership, would serve as the employee notice to CUNY that the earlier registered domestic partner relationship has been terminated. The form would be completed by the employee, providing name, social security number, and college. The employee also provides the name and current address of the former domestic partner for purposes of possible COBRA notification. The form itself is signed and dated, and the original is filed with the college Personnel office. The form includes a notice to the employee as to the period of time that must elapse before another recognized domestic partnership may be registered with CUNY.

The City University of New York


The City University of New York extends recognition of domestic partnerships to its lesbian and gay employees who are in a committed relationship with a person of the same sex and who are not permitted by law to marry.

_________________________   _______________________
(Employee Name)             (Social Security Number)

_________________________   _______________________
(College or CUNY Unit)             (Date)

(Domestic Partner's Name and Social Security Number)
I do hereby attest that I and the above-named person meet the CUNY eligibility requirements as Domestic Partners set forth below. I further understand that the University shall require that I present evidence of common residence and financial interdependence as provided on the reverse side of this form.

__________________________   ____________________
(Employee Signature)         (Notary Public Stamp)
The City University of New York defines Domestic Partner as the partner of a CUNY employee who is of the same sex and who shares a committed relationship with the following characteristics:

Living together for at least 6 months, Having a mutual and exclusive commitment to each other's well-being, Being financially interdependent by sharing common assets and common debts, Neither party being married to anyone nor having another domestic partner, Not being related by blood closer than would bar marriage in the state of their residence, and Both parties being of age for legal marriage.

The following are examples of acceptable documents that serve to register a CUNY Domestic Partnership. Employees must present a current or recent document from each of the two categories below. Other suitable documents may also be presented.

Common Residence                    Financial Interdependence
----------------                    -------------------------

joint lease or mortgage             joint lease or mortgage

valid driver or non-                joint checking, savings, or
driver photo I.D.                   brokerage account

recent utility bill (telephone,     joint automobile registration
cable TV, gas/electricity)

recent bank account/credit          joint ownership of a tangible
card statement                      major asset

previous year's state resident      designation of domestic
income tax filing                   partner as beneficiary
                                    in a will

recent state jury duty attendance   designation of domestic
certificate                         partner as beneficiary
                                    for life insurance or
                                    pension retirement benefits
recently issued voter registration

recent rent bill or receipt         durable power of attorney
NOTE: Employees are encouraged to consult with their tax advisor to determine the consequences and liabilities, if any.

Employees are also encouraged to consult with their legal advisor to determine debt obligations and credit & collection implications, if any.

Received by:_________________________________   Date:_____________
            (Personnel Director, or designee)


In order for your domestic partner's child(ren) to be claimed by you as a dependent for CUNY benefits, the child(ren) must meet the age requirements for benefits coverage, must be primarily dependent upon you for support, and a parent-child relationship exists based upon all of the following:

_______________________________    ________________________________
      (Employee Name)                  (Social Security Number)

_______________________________    ________________________________
     (College or CUNY Unit)                     (Date)

_______________________________    ________________________________
   (Employee Signature)                (Domestic Partner's Name)

Name(s), date(s) of birth, and sex of domestic partner's child(ren):



Received by:______________________________________Date:____________
               (Personnel Director, or designee)

OFSR-651b (9/93)


I, ______________________________, do hereby declare that I no longer
          (Employee Name)
have a domestic partnership with_____________________________________
                                  (Name of Former Domestic Partner)

I file this Termination of Domestic Partnership in order to cancel the
Statement of Domestic Partnership earlier filed by me on______________.
I understand that I may not file another                   (date)
Statement of Domestic Partnership until six (6) months have passed from
this date.

__________________________________    _________________________________
   (Employee Signature)                   (Social Security Number)

__________________________________    _________________________________
   (College or CUNY Unit)                        (Date)

I understand that my former domestic partner may be eligible for a
continuation of health insurance benefits under COBRA regulations.
My former domestic partner's current address is__________________________


Received by:__________________________________ Date:____________________
             (Personnel Director, or designee)

OFSR-651c (9/93)


to the Report of the Domestic Partnership Study Group for the City University of New York

The following is a selected list of private, public, and non-profit employers; universities and colleges; and cities and municipalities that now offer domestic partner coverage to their employees. I. Private, Public, and Non-profit employers

1. American Civil Liberties Union, San Francisco, CA

Health insurance for domestic partners and domestic partners child(ren) if domestic partner resides with employee. Office small, unable to find insurer to provide coverage for domestic partners; therefore, it pays cash equivalent of the cost of covering a spouse and/or children as dependents under the office medical, dental and insurance plan if the employee purchases independent insurance for the domestic partner and children. The ACLU will pay the cost of the insurance directly, and if the cost exceeds the employers nominal share, the ACLU will deduct the excess from the employees pay.

2. American Friends Service Committee, Philadelphia, PA (1987)

Has 350 employees and was able to obtain medical coverage through the John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston and hospitalization coverage through the Independence Blue Cross Association in Philadelphia. Coverage is the same as spousal. Domestic partners are only required to sign an affirmation of commitment but are not required to live together. The employee pays 50% of the premium. Only 10 employees enrolled and the rates were not increased.

3. American Psychological Association Insurance Trust, Washington D.C. (1991)

Provides major medical, hospitalization, accident and life insurance coverage to the spousal equivalents of its members. Out of 1500 employees, 10 cover domestic partners. Domestic partners are subject to a one year waiting period. The eligibility requirements, established by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, require that the spousal equivalent must:

There is no formal policy language regarding coverage for the child of the spousal equivalent; however, coverage is provided to a step child who is wholly or partially dependent on the member. Premiums are the same for spouses and spousal equivalents.

4. Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) Oakland, CA (August 1992)

Benefits include medical, dental, vision care and bereavement pay to same-sex partners. 120 employees are expected to add their partners to the program at an estimated cost of $300,000 per year.

5. The Berkeley School Board, Berkeley, California (1984)

Dental, bereavement and parental leave were made available immediately. Children of domestic partners are covered. No insurance carrier was willing to provide domestic partners health coverage.

6. The Episcopal Diocese of Newark, Newark, NJ (June, 1992)

Extends dental insurance to the same-sex partners of its priests and lay employees. They are attempting to restructure the medical insurance coverage to provide coverage similar to the dental plan.

7. Levi Strauss & Co., San Francisco, CA (June 1992)

Offers health insurance to domestic partners of its 23,000 U.S. employees and is attempting to provide for domestic partners of its employees internationally, making it the largest company in the nation to offer domestic partners benefits. Is self-insured with few HMOs. Predicts that health cost will rise 1/2%.

8. Lotus Development Corporation, Cambridge, MA (Sept.1991)

Made available benefits to same-sex "spousal equivalents" of employees highlighting the fact that lesbian and gay employees "do not have the choice to legalize permanent and exclusive relationships through marriage." Benefits include medical, dental, hearing, vision, life insurance, relocation and bereavement leave.

The firm reports that "data indicate that coverage of employees and their same-sex partners has not significantly increased their per capita health care expenses. Fears that AIDS will drive up costs have proved to be unfounded. " Lotus has a workforce of over 3,000 employees and the company estimated that 10% are eligible for spousal equivalent coverage. To date, however, only 12 employees have taken advantage of the benefits.

9. Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY (March 1991)

Provides health benefits to same sex partners as it does for heterosexual spouses. Extension of this benefit to the 9,000 employees makes Montefiore the largest private sector institution to extend benefits to same-sex domestic partners. The hospitalization coverage is provided under Blue Cross and the major medical by TPA. There was no increase in premium because of this benefit and no AIDS claim as a result of this coverage.

10. National Organization of Women, Washington, D.C. (1984)

Offered domestic partners health benefits through Consumers United Insurance Company for its employees and for its membership. Approximately 2400 NOW members are covered through their NOW MED program. The insurance carrier offers domestic partner benefits to all its clients, both group and individual.

11. University Students Cooperative Association, Berkeley, CA

Has a written policy to provide benefit coverage to the domestic partners of its employees. No current employees need coverage. If one should, however, USCA will pay the cash equivalent for the employee to purchase private coverage for domestic partners.

12. The Village Voice, New York (July, 1982)

Has provided health benefits for domestic partners to its employees who are members of Local District 65. These benefits include medical and dental coverage and bereavement leave. Management is not provided with domestic partner health benefits. In February, 1992, District 65 employees became insured by Group Health Insurance (GHI). GHI explained they provided domestic partners benefits only in this case because GHI took over coverage from another carrier that already had a proven actuarial record. The domestic partner is covered under a separate individual policy rather than a family policy. The child of a domestic partner is not covered. As of February, 1992, The Voice had 15 of 226 eligible employees in their domestic partners program, and 7 of those are from same-sex couples.

II. Colleges and Universities

1. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME Bereavement, Sick, Parental and Housing

2. Brown University, Providence, RI Sick, Parental

3. Columbia University, New York, NY Health Service, Parental, Gymnasium, Housing

4. Florida International University, Miami, FL Bereavement, Housing

5. Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA Bereavement, Sick, Parental

6. Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA Housing

7. Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA Housing

8. Mission College, Santa Clara, CA Bereavement

9. New York University Law School, New York, NY Bereavement, Sick, Parental

10. North Dakota University, Grand Forks, ND Bereavement, Sick

11. Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA Tuition Reduction, Recreation Facilities

12. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ Housing (students)

13. Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA Health Service, Library, Recreation Facilities, Housing (students), Tuition benefits, Health

14. SUNY Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY Housing (Students)

15. Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY Recreation Facilities, Housing (students)

16. Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY Health Service, Bereavement, Sick Leave, Parental, Housing

17. University of Colorado, Boulder, CO Recreation Facilities

18. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI Health Service, Bereavement, Sick Leave, Parental

19. University of Oregon, Eugene, OR Housing (Students w/ children)

20. University of Tampa, Tampa, FL Bereavement

21. University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI Housing

22. Hiram College, Hiram, OH Bereavement

23. Moorehead State University,Moorehead,MN Bereavement, Sick, Parental

III. Cities and Municipalities

1. Ann Arbor, MI (August 1992)

Domestic partner benefits for non-union employees in same-sex relationships. No insurance carrier willing to cover domestic partners. City is willing to extend benefits to unionized employees (80% of workforce) if unions agree. AFSCME, Ann Arbor's largest union, is unwilling to support domestic partners benefits.

2. Berkeley, CA (December 1984)

Became first municipality in the country to provide employment related benefits to domestic partners of city employees. These benefits are paid by the city and include medical, dental, sick and bereavement leave. The medical plans offered to city employees consist of a self-insured medical plan and two different HMOs including Kaiser Permanente. The City dropped one insurer who refused to provide domestic partner benefit coverage.

Kaiser originally required a 2% loading fee to cover any additional or unexpected costs pertaining to domestic partners. The loading fee was dropped after three years, presumably because there were no additional costs.

According to the City of Berkeley, only 116 out of 1475 eligible employees signed up for domestic partners benefits, 19 of whom are same-sex. Berkeley's rates have remained comparable to those cities without domestic partner coverage.

3. Ithaca, NY (January 1991)

Added sick leave and bereavement leave for employees with domestic partners to all city labor contracts.

4. Laguna Beach, CA (1990)

Began offering domestic partner registration to city employees in 1990. The city expanded registration to all city residents in June, 1992, and since then, 47 resident couples have registered. The domestic partners have been eligible for medical benefits since 1990 and dental since 1991. Children remain ineligible. The city had to become self-insured because no private insurer would provide benefits beyond $50,000. In January, 1992, the city had 219 full-time employees, seven signed up for domestic partners benefits, all heterosexual. It is believed that there are same sex partners who have not signed up because their partners already have insurance. The city also provides sick leave for domestic partners.

5. Los Angeles, CA

Offers bereavement and sick leave only to city employees whose labor union has opted to provide domestic partners benefits.

6. Madison, WI

Provides sick and bereavement leave.

7. Minneapolis, MN (1991)

Granted employees with a domestic partner sick and bereavement leave.

8. San Francisco, CA (1991)

Adopted a registration ordinance. The City and County of San Francisco began offering domestic partner medical benefits to its employees. The HMO underwriters are Kaiser Permanente, Bridgeway, Bay Pacific, Qual Med and Foundation. The Mayor's Task Force projected 2000 employees would enroll their partners. To date only 175 employees have enrolled, 92% whom have a same-sex domestic partner. The costs to the city have been minimal. The insurers had required the Health Service System to set aside $1 million to cover the projected increase in costs. Because of the enormous over-projection in the number of people who would enroll, however, the program administrator expects the ultimate cost to be very low.

9. Santa Cruz, CA (May 1986)

Offered the domestic partners of its city employees medical, dental, and vision coverage, and gives city employees sick and bereavement leave benefits. The city has been self-insured since 1981. The city employs approximately 700 people, and only 20 enrolled their partners, a number that has actually dropped from 45 in 1990.

10. Seattle, WA (1990)

The city extended medical, dental, accidental and dismemberment insurance to domestic partners and their children. As of October 1990, 361 employees had filed affidavits. 34% are same-sex couples. Of those registered, only 172 employees have registered their domestic partners for medical benefits, and 187 for dental.

Seattle has private medical coverage for its employees with two HMO groups, Group Health Cooperative and Pacific Health. Those HMOs received higher premiums, raised about 2% across the board. Blue Shield refused to insure domestic partners for employees it covered in King County but agreed to be the plan administrator for the city, which is self-insuring those employees. The city pays 100% of medical and dental coverage for all employees and dependents.

11. Takoma Park, MD

City employees are eligible for sick or bereavement leave.

12. West Hollywood, CA (1985)

First passed a domestic partner ordinance in February, 1985, providing domestic partners registration for anyone interested, whether or not a city resident. Grants jail and hospital visitation rights to any registered domestic partners. Presently, 367 couples registered as domestic partners, 75 of whom are heterosexual. City also granted sick and bereavement leave to domestic partners of city employees and searched for an insurer for medical benefits. In August, 1988, carrier for dental and optical benefits for domestic partners was found. In December, 1988, the city decided to become self-insured and pay for its own medical benefits for domestic partners of city employees. Benefits provided a high level of coverage with a cap of $1 million and are the same for married couples. The city provides an allowance to all employees to buy their own insurance coverage and choose their own plan.

The cost of insurance did not rise when the city became self-insured. As of January, 1992, the city had 140 employees, six of whom have elected to enroll for domestic partners benefits, four are same-sex, eventhough union-gathered data indicated that 40% of the city employees identify as lesbian or gay. Only a small number of eligible employees have taken advantage of this option because the domestic partner usually has medical coverage through his/her own job.


to the Report of the Domestic Partnership Study Group for the City University of New York


Cities            Effective Date  Total Work  Number      Financial Impact
                  of Coverage     Force       Registered

Seattle, WA       5/1/90          10,000      175          May-Dec 1990, City
                                                           Council passed a
                                                           special appropria-
                                                           tion bill to pay for
                                                           domestic partners
                                                           benefits. Increase
                                                           following years will
                                                           be for annual
                                                           premiums, not
                                                           domestic partners
                                                           inclusion. (Claudia
                                                           Gross, Benefits

West Hollywood,  5/90             175           5          Negligible number of
CA                                                         domestic partners;
                                                           claims are much lower
                                                           than the group
                                                           coverage. There has
                                                           been the positive
                                                           effect of additional
                                                           individuals who pay
                                                           premiums with no
                                                           additional costs to
                                                           the health plan.
                                                           (Kevin Fridlington,
                                                           Personnel Department)

Berkeley, CA     5/90             1550           110       Insurance company
                                                           raised premium by 2%
                                                           or $2 per month per
                                                           employee. "There has
                                                           been no evidence of
                                                           people with AIDS
                                                           placing a strain on
                                                           the health plan."
                                                           (Steve Replogle, City
                                                           Manager's Office)

Santa Cruz, CA   5/1/86           630           30         "Cost is no more than
                                                           if 30 spouses had
                                                           been added. There
                                                           have been no
                                                           catastrophic claims."
                                                           (Erwin Young,
                                                           Director of

American        1983              3000          10         "We have no seen any
Psychological                                              particular risk any
Association                                                more than anything
                                                           else we are
                                                           covering." (Margaret
                                                           Bogie, Executive
                                                           Administrator of the
                                                           Health Plan)

American        1987              350           5          "It hasn't proved
Friends Service                                            to be any different
Committee                                                  than prior to our
                                                           extending benefits.
                                                           Rates were not
                                                           increased because of
                                                           this feature."
                                                           (Bessie Williamson,
                                                           Assistant Treasurer)


to the Report of the Domestic Partnership Study Group for The City University of New York


                 Year     Same-Sex    Total    Enrollment Premium
             Implemented    Only     Employees   Shift    Increase

 Chicago        1993        yes        6,060      0.1%      no a
 Children's     1992        yes        4,300      0.4%    mixed b
 Harvard        1993        yes       10,400      note c    no
 Iowa           1993        yes        8,000      0.2%      no a
 Montefiore     1991        yes        8,500      0.3%      no
  (New York)
 Stanford       1993        yes        9,760      0.2%      yes

 Berkeley, CA   1985        no         1,475      7.9%      no
 Cambridge, MA  1993        no           900      1.9%      no
 San Francisco, 1991        no        32,500      0.5%      no
 Santa Cruz,    1986        no           700      2.8%      no a
 Seattle, WA    1990        no        10,000      2.8%      no

 Ben & Jerry's  1989        no           350      4.0%      no
 International  1993        no         1,500      2.3%      no a
   Data Group
 Levi Strauss   1992        no        23,000      0.6%      yes
 Lotus          1991        yes        3,100      0.4%      yes
 The Village    1982        no           230      7.8%      no

 Average: Same-sex only                           0.3%

 Average: Same & opposite-sex                     3.4%

     a Self-insured, not offered under HMO plans.
     b Offers four plans, only one increased premiums.
     c Harvard shift data not yet available.

 All data provided by Harvard University.


to the Report of the Domestic Partnership Study Group for The City University of New York

                         COST ANALYSIS

Table I: Enrollment Data,    Table II: Health Benefit Costs,
         June 1993                     June 1993

Community Colleges                      p/month  p/year    ###    $$$
 Individual  1,298           Individual 124.16   1,490   4,657  6,938,557
 Family      2,421           Family     304.19   3,650   8,450 30,844,866
 Total       3,719           Differen-  180.03   2,160  13,107 37,783,423
Senior Colleges
 Individual  3,359           Table III: Projected Costs of Enrollment
 Family      5,636                      Shifts
 Fam/Med       393           Shift %  Shift #  Cost $  Cost %   Notes
 Total       9,388           0.10%      5      10,061   0.03%   U Chicago
                             0.20%      9      20,122   0.05%   Stanford&Iowa
University-wide              0.30%     14      30,182   0.08%   Montefiore
 Individual  4,657           0.40%     19      40,243   0.11%   Lotus
 Family      8,057           0.50%     23      50,304   0.13%
 Fam/Med       393           0.75%     35      75,456   0.20%
 Total      13,107           1.00%     47     100,608   0.27%
                             1.25%     58     125,760   0.33%
                             1.50%     70     150,912   0.40%
                             1.75%     81     176,064   0.47%
                             2.00%     93     201,216   0.53%
                             2.25%    105     226,368   0.60%
                             2.50%    116     251,520   0.67%
                             2.75%    128     276,672   0.73%
                             3.00%    140     301,824   0.80%