Critics assail Northwestern U. policy that gives heterosexual couples fewer options than same-sex partners receive
October 17, 2011
Soon after Northwestern University professor Robert Fourer entered into a civil union, he did what many others in newly recognized relationships have done: He applied to add his partner to his health insurance.
But Northwestern denied his request because his partner is a woman.
The university's top-tier PPO insurance plan is available to same-sex partners in a civil union, but not to heterosexual couples in the same type of legal relationship. Male-female partners are eligible only for the university's HMO plan — unless they marry, in which case they can pick either plan.
Fourer and DePaul University professor Sandra Maria Benedet, an Evanston couple in their early 60s, decided to enter into a civil union shortly after it became legal in part because they support equal rights for same-sex couples. So they were shocked to learn that when it comes to Northwestern's health insurance, same-sex pairs get a better deal.
"The (civil union) law makes no distinction, but somehow they are making a distinction," said Fourer, an engineering professor at Northwestern for 33 years. "I am not happy with it. It is somewhat intrusive. Why should they be bugging me about the gender of my partner?"