The University announced this week that it will implement a program to compensate employees in same-sex domestic partnerships for taxes paid on health care for their partners. They may receive an additional $125 per month or $1,500 per year to make up for the tax breaks on health care not afforded to them. This policy demonstrates Penn’s leadership and commitment to the goal of equality for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, and we commend the University on its decision.
As one of the first universities in the nation to adopt such a policy, Penn once again has proven itself a leader in promoting LGBT equality. Not satisfied with established norms, Penn is pushing forward to shape new norms of workplace equality.
“Grossing up,” as the policy is called, serves two important purposes. Primarily, it eases the burden on LGBT employees and their partners. But it also sends a strong signal that Penn is part of a growing trend that recognizes that federal and state laws discriminate against people in same-sex partnerships.
Further, the University should be applauded for following through on its Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence. This week’s announcement is just the most recent entry in a long list of decisions promoting equality for LGBT employees, including recently extending insurance benefits to transgender employees.
While it is disappointing that the decision came more than a year after Penn received criticism for not implementing this plan, it is admirable that the University amended its policies to reaffirm its place as a welcoming community for people of all backgrounds. Now it’s time for the rest of the nation to follow suit.