President's Blog

Same-sex marriage and university competitiveness

On October 9, the George Mason University Faculty Senate approved the following resolution concerning our current inability to offer to same-sex married couples the same benefits that we offer to any other married couple.  The resolution explains the various negative implications of the current policy, not just for the individuals who are directly affected, but for the university’s ability to compete to attract and retain a diverse and talented faculty.  The negative implications of this situation are perhaps greater for George Mason University than for other universities in Virginia given our proximity to Washington D.C. and Maryland, where same-sex married couples receive the same benefits as any other married couple.

Even though our Board has taken a position against any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, as a public university, our policy concerning same-sex married couple benefits is subject to decisions by the Commonwealth.  I therefore urge Virginia’s next governor and the 2014 session of Virginia’s General Assembly to address this important issue and take these arguments into consideration as changes to current policy are debated.

Resolution in Support of Providing Benefits for Same-Sex Married Couples

Sponsored by the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate

Whereas the Board of Visitors of George Mason University has issued a resolution (March 24, 2010) concerning discrimination against all persons in their dealings with the University;

Whereas the Faculty of George Mason University believes that all employees and students of the Commonwealth deserve equitable treatment and statutory protection against discrimination;

Whereas the American Association of University Professors has vigorously advocated its support for non-discrimination policies, and that this support is joined by that of the Virginia Conference of the AAUP and of the AAUP Committee on Sexual Diversity and Gender Identity;

Whereas the Faculty Senate of George Mason University continues to support University Policy 1201 that promotes a culture of inclusivity and non-discrimination;

Whereas Mason strives to recruit and retain a diverse faculty with strong research and teaching records, in part by offering them the opportunity to participate fully in the Mason community.

Whereas peer institutions within our region, with whom we compete for faculty, offer comprehensive benefits to same-sex couples and their families;

Whereas the federal government no longer defines marriage as between one man and one woman and now recognizes as legally binding the marriages of same-sex couples who are married within states that have authorized same-sex marriage;

Whereas the IRS now recognizes as legally married all same sex couples who were married in states that recognize same-sex marriage, even if the couple does not reside in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage;

Whereas the United States military now offers equal benefits in housing, health care, and community life to all legally married members, regardless of the gender of the spouses;

Whereas the legally married same-sex partners of Virginia National Guard members will be eligible for the same federal benefits as opposite-sex married couples; and

Whereas the Faculty Senate of George Mason University supports full benefits for same-sex couples in the continuing pursuit of equity, justice, and non-discrimination;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Faculty Senate of George Mason University strongly urges the University and the Commonwealth to ensure the rights of same-sex married couples employed by the University by extending to these couples the same benefits that are offered by the University and the Commonwealth to other married couples.