Feb 022013

Lusher Charter School will extend health benefits to employees’ same-sex partners, the school board decided at a Saturday morning meeting.

The cost to the school is not immediately known — it is unclear how many same-sex couples are among the school’s staff, and of them how many would want to enroll with their partner’s health plan, officials said. But even if the cost was high, board chair Blaine LeCesne says the decision is the right one.

“Even if there were some cost ramification, we would have done it anyway,” LeCesne said.

When the school last investigated the issue several years ago, neither state law nor the school’s Blue Cross Blue Shield health plan would allow the partners of gay employees to enroll, said chief financial officer Lynden Swayze. She recently looked into it again, however, and found that it is now possible to offer those benefits under both the law and the current Blue Cross Blue Shield plan.

Before the administration made the change, however, CEO Kathy Riedlinger said she wanted the board to know about it. In response, the board quickly passed a resolution allowing the change.

Swayze said the change in the health plan will take place after the school’s new fiscal year July 1. The school is also now working to extend dental and vision benefits to same-sex partners as well, so that they will have access to the full range of benefits offered to heterosexual spouses. No spouses currently have benefits through the teacher-retirement system, but that program is run through the state so Lusher could not change it anyway, Swayze said.

For gay couples to enroll, they have to meet a number of qualifications to show a life commitment to each other, since they cannot marry under Louisiana law. Those requirements are handled through Blue Cross Blue Shield, Swayze said.

The issue arose as part of a wide-ranging meeting of Lusher’s governing board on Saturday. It began with an extensive discussion of the problems with the school’s audit that arose after a senior accounting employee was discovered to be stealing checks, and ended with the school’s frustration with the division realignment occurring at the state level with high-school football. The board also approved contributing $104,000 to the upcoming renovation of the Fortier campus, so that the Orleans Parish School Board will increase the budget for the project by another $850,000 for additional items.

To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below.

  • Nice of the board to spend OTHER people’s money on a social issue they are trying to promote…without even asking for voters’ consent. Of course if the board voted to fund a prayer breakfast, the world would explode.

    • Hi, Kurt. My husband and I–along with countless other couples–have funded straight spouses’ benefits for decades. Please don’t feel badly that we’d like to be treated fairly with regard to employment benefits. Also, it’s not something voters have to decide–it was for Blue Cross, the school administration, and the charter board to decide, no differently from how corporations in the U.S. and around the world have decided this for years without having to ask voters’ permission for a business decision.

  • Hey Kurt,

    Why don’t you also consider the below as an argument.

    The pro-gay groups have NEVER attempted to answer the 3rd/last question/comment shown below.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    If gay marriage is ok, why not make polygamy, incest, or pedophilia, OK?

    And all of aforementioned in the name of ‘LOVE’ will justify them all?

    Do the “ends” justify the “means” at any cost?

    Are gays really being honest with themselves and others in “coming out of the closet”? Why the need for gay “pride” in the first place decades ago?

    Perhaps someone can explain why they want to shame others for their hate or homophobia when they themselves needed to advertise and promote their own “pride” well before anyone knew about gay pride?

    Doesn’t the medical community recommend that you, “Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.”?

    Yet, now there are some in the medical community that now say it’s OK to “Sleep with the waste that gets flushed down in the toilet?” and that it’s possible to live a perfectly normal life.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Follow me at Twitter: @AhContraire

    • Skip

      Incest and pedophilia are bad because innocent third parties will be harmed by these actions. Polygamy – it’s up for debate.

      But comparing gay marriage to pedophilia is like comparing straight marriage to car burglary. It has no connection.

      Last point, I’m not saying you’re a closet case “au contraire” but anyone I’ve ever met who is this anti-gay has been so far.

      • Hey Skip, since you agree on incest and pedophilia, why not comment on the LAST POINT/COMMENT that was made?

        And if you say can’t compare gay marriage to pedophila, they why can you compare gay marriage with straight marriage? You say there is no connection between gay marriage to pedophilia, but aren’t two males and sex involved, consenting or not?

        Again, why not comment on the LAST POINT/COMMENT?

  • AJ

    What great news! With the safety net of a benefits package, an employee’s partner or spouse is more likely to go to the doctor sooner when sick and use preventive options like annual physicals or mammograms that can provide for early detection of more serious conditions. If the partner does become sick, an employee may be impacted by missing work to take care of his or her partner. And if the partner doesn’t have benefits, we all ultimately pay for his or her care through taxes that support a government program. Proactive and equal care for all is good for everyone and the best business decision.