With a unanimous vote on Thursday, the University of Missouri Board of Curators has approved employee benefits for “sponsored adult dependents,” a group that includes same-sex couples.

We are now able to be equitable to all members of our community.”

– Noor Azizan-Gardner, chief diversity officer

Medical, dental, vision and life insurance will be available, as will accidental death and dismemberment insurance, starting in 2014. The move is a part of a set of changes to employee health benefits to be made in conjunction with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

This is just absolutely wonderful in every way. We are now able to be equitable to all members of our community,” Chief Diversity Officer Noor Azizan-Gardner says. “Additionally, we would be more competitive in being able to attract the best and brightest faculty and staff to Mizzou. This decision meant that we have made one giant step further in creating a more diverse and inclusive campus.”

The new coverage comes after several years of planning and work, including resolutions on all four campuses’ faculty councils recommending that the UM System cover same-sex partner benefits.

I felt really excited and a sense of pride for Mizzou because now the official policies match the environment here. There are so many people who are huge allies,” Struby Struble, coordinator of the MU LGBTQ resource center, says. “It’s also really good because it will help so much with recruitment and hiring. When prospective people asked what our policy was and I had to tell them we didn’t have benefits, you could see on their face that they thought it wasn’t the right fit. Now I can proudly say that we do.”

There are certain criteria a sponsored adult dependent must meet in order to be eligible:

  • Must be 18 years of age or older.
  • Must have shared the same residence as the employee for at least a year and continue to share the same residence, disregarding temporary absence because of special circumstances.
  • Not currently married to another person under statutory or common law.
  • Not related to the employee by a degree of closeness that would prohibit lawful marriage in the state in which the employee resides.
  • Not eligible for Medicare.