The University of Arkansas has halted any plans to grant benefits to homosexual employees legally married in Arkansas, pending a ruling by the state Supreme Court, according to a memo from the university.
After Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza struck down the Arkansas gay marriage ban on May 9, University of Arkansas System General Counselor Fred Harrison wrote in a memo sent to Ann Kemp Vice President for Administration on May 12, “Same sex couples married in Arkansas before such stay shall be entitled to participate in the University’s plan unless the stay order addresses this issue to the contrary.”
However, on May 15, the Arkansas Supreme Court filed for a stay on Piazza’s rulings. Since then, Harrison wrote, “Accordingly, I am of the opinion that any same-sex couples married in Arkansas before the stay and any same-sex couples married in another state recognizing same-sex marriages shall not be eligible for benefits under the university’s medical benefit plan or other benefits of the university depending upon marital status, until this case runs its course.”
Harrison also wrote that he believes that it is necessary for the university and its employees who have entered into same-sex marriages before the Supreme Court’s state order to maintain the same legal status which existed prior to Judge Piazza’s ruling on May 9, according to the memo.
Ben Beaumont, Director of Communication at the University of Arkansas, said that technically nothing changed within the benefits plan, and the school was just responding to the change in Arkansas law.
Now that a stay has been issued, the University of Arkansas has decided that the law has gone back to what it was before Piazza’s ruling was issued on May 9. As such, they decided not to change their benefits plan, according to Beaumont.
As for the future of any changes to the benefits plan, Beaumont said the school will continue to respond to the laws in place regarding same-sex marriage and await a final decision from the Supreme Court before they decide if they’ll move forward with any adjustments to the system.