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AISD Won't Offer Coverage for Domestic Partners in 2013-14

KUT News

The Austin Independent School District says it will not offer insurance coverage to domestic partners of district employees in the 2013-14 school year, but may decide to do so in the future. 

AISD announced in February it would offer benefits to domestic partners, including same-sex partners, following the lead of the Pflugerville Independent School District. 

But then State Rep. Drew Springer(R-Muenster) filed House Bill 1568 that aimed  to punish school districts that offered benefits to same-sex partners. The bill died in committee. 

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott also issued a non-binding legal opinion that said offering such benefits was in violation of the state constitution's marriage amendment, passed by voters in 2005.  

And there was a ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling was issued Wednesday and struck down a portion of the law. 

"AISD had to make a decision on whether to extend coverage to domestic partnerships by April 30, 2013," the district's human resources chief Michael Houserwrote to staff today. "Thus, based on the advice of legal counsel, AISD believed it had no choice but to maintain its current benefits practice until the Supreme Court’s rulings were issued and the Texas Legislative session ended."

Bottom line: no benefits for domestic partners in the coming school year. But AISD is not closing the door on the idea in the future. 

"It is possible that something may change over the next few months and allow the district to return to its original intent of offering domestic partnerships coverage," Houser wrote. 

The Pflugerville school district continues to offer such benefits. So does the City of Austin. 

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
Trey Shaar is an All Things Considered producer, reporter and host. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @treyshaar.
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