Following passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in North Carolina, Duke administrators were unequivocal about how the amendment will affect Duke’s benefits and employee relations.
Bottom line: It won’t.
In the weeks before the May 8 vote on North Carolina’s Amendment One, Duke officials reiterated the university’s commitment to same-sex benefits, stating they “stand alongside the LGBT community in seeking a more equal world.” Approval of the amendment, which received more than 60 percent of the final vote, changes nothing about that commitment, says Kyle Cavanaugh, Duke’s vice president for administration.
“Duke was one of the first employers to make benefits available to same-sex partners in 1994 as a way to be inclusive and supportive of the needs of all faculty and staff, and this support will continue,” Cavanaugh wrote in a memo to Duke deans, directors, managers, and others.
“[Duke officials] stand alongside the LGBT community in seeking a more equal world.”
The amendment swirled at the center of a months-long campaign battle that deeply divided North Carolina voters. However, in Durham County, where 70 percent of voters opposed the amendment, the political tone was different. The Duke College Republicans, Duke Democrats, and Blue Devils United all argued against the amendment, which defines a marriage between a man and a woman as the only legal form of domestic union in the state. In a joint statement, the student groups said the amendment “limits both samesex and opposite-sex couples’ legal recognition through civil unions, and it interferes with religious freedom by further entangling the government with religious marriage.”