The Faculty Senate at the University of Memphis, voted on Tuesday without much discussion, to unanimously support equal benefits for couples in same-sex partnerships.
The first motion to be discussed at the meeting, which passed by 33-0, was intended to encourage the Tennessee Board of Regents staff to evaluate the advantages of a resolution by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville Faculty Senate, which asks for equal benefits for staff in same-sex partnerships, reported the Commercial Appeal.
A second motion, which passed 30-3 votes, was to set up a committee to draft a similar resolution to that of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, which would likely be reviewed by the senate in January.
The five-person committee is headed by Eddie Jacobs, Senate representative from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
Once the resolution was agreed by the Faculty Senate, it would also have to be agreed by the university’s administration, as well as the Board of Regents.
“I think that it’s such a clear moral position that needs to be taken,” said Cedar L Nordbye, the Senate representative from the Art Department. “And it’s a body of faculty who are educated in the history of civil rights to a large extent. We recognize it’s due, and it’s embarrassing we haven’t made the strides we should have made in this area.”
Reginald Green, Senate representative from the Leadership Department, attributed the swift action by the Senate to Senate President Thomas E Banning’s “excellent job of informing the members of the faculty Senate. They came well versed on the issue and knew what they wanted to do.”
Mr Banning said that the issue was a moral one, and that it represented the rights of same-sex couples, but that its effects were broader ranging. He said “this is also a hiring decision to get the best and brightest into the institutions.”
“You need the ability to offset people who will take those benefits elsewhere and not come here,” he said. “Memphis and the Mid-South is a great area. It s got a great natural draw to it. … But when people are shopping for benefits it’s no different than corporations in the Mid-South who have already recognized same sex benefits are advantageous in recruiting.”