By Andrew Petrey
Starting in 2015, the college will offer a number of benefits to same sex domestic partners of full-time and part-time employees under the Virginia Wesleyan College Same Sex Domestic Partner Benefits Policy. The benefits from this new policy include health insurance, tuition assistance, and access to the college library and athletic facilities.
Dr. Sharon Payne, Professor of Social Work, as a clinical social worker and a psychotherapist understands the impacts of these recent decisions. “I am happy that VWC has finally included domestic partners in our insurance plans. Now that all persons can be married in Virginia, the benefits will have to catch up,” Payne said.
Earlier this month the Federal appeals court in Richmond struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in Virginia, thus becoming the 25th state out of the now 30 states to allow and acknowledge same-sex marriages in the country. The decision stems from the Bostic v. Schaefer lawsuit which was filed by two gay residents, Timothy Bostic and Tony London, of Norfolk who challenged the state`s ban on same-sex marriage in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. It was the district court’s ruling that the ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. The case was then taken to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which consist of Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Virginia. Currently, out of these states South Carolina remains as the only with a ban.
The Oct.6 decision that the Supreme Court would not be hearing the case enabled the Court of Appeals decision to stand. In other words, with the ruling in effect same-sex marriages could begin in Virginia, opening the opportunity for many couples to get married.
In keeping in the spirit of equal opportunity for all, the Commonwealth of Virginia further opened opportunities for same-sex couples by legally allowing them to adopt, as of Oct. 10.
“Now that same-sex marriage in Virginia is officially legal, we owe it to all Virginians to ensure that every couple is treated equally under all of our laws, no matter whom they love,” Governor McAuliffe said. “By formally recognizing that same-sex couples can now legally adopt, we are more fully complying with the ruling in this important case, and sending the message once again that Virginia is open and welcoming to everyone,” McAuliffe said.
After the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Virginia, same-sex couples now have the potential to gain full parental rights on adoptions. “I think that every couple that is not able to have their own children should be able to adopt as long as they have a stable, loving, and safe home environment.” adds senior Kelly Marvel.
Sophomore Connor Pederson shares his excitement stating, “I was happy for all of the men and women that now get the same right as everyone else in the state of Virginia. I know a friend of mine who is in his 30s who is finally going to be able to marry his significant other, so that’s pretty radical.”