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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 17, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 29
Michigan Christian college OKs spousal benefits for same-sex couples
Section One
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Michigan Christian college OKs spousal benefits for same-sex couples

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The administration of Hope College, a Christian school affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, says it will grant same-sex married couples the same benefits that were previously reserved for opposite-sex spouses.

'In employment policy and practice, Hope College has always followed the state's legal definition of marriage,' Hope College president John Knapp said.

'Spouses are eligible for benefits so long as their marriage is legally recognized by the state of Michigan.'

The decision came as a consequence of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that laws barring Gay and Lesbian marriages are unconstitutional.

The director of public affairs and marketing at the college, Jennifer Fellinger, said the college doesn't have a different set of standards or policies for Gay couples, compared to heterosexual couples.

'As it has in the past, Hope College welcomes students, staff and faculty based on their ability to contribute to the life of the college, not on their sexual orientation or marital status,' she told the Holland Sentinel newspaper.

Hope College is located in Holland, Michigan, a town founded in 1847 by Dutch Calvinist refugees. Their Dutch Reformed Church - since 1867 the Reformed Church in America - is theologically conservative.

In 2014 it adopted language defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Same-sex marriages will not be performed in the college chapel.

In 1978, in a doctrinal pronouncement on homosexuality, the church said that Gay people are 'no more to be blamed' for their condition 'than a retarded child,' but the church also supports civil rights protections for LGBT people.

Several other faith-based colleges also offer nondiscrimination protections and spousal benefits to LGBT employees.

The Notre Dame University said it would extend healthcare and other benefits to same-sex spouses when Indiana introduced same-sex marriage last year.

'Notre Dame is a Catholic university and endorses a Catholic view of marriage,' a spokesperson said. 'However, it will follow the relevant civil law and begin to implement this change immediately.'

Belmont University, formerly affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention, was already offering legally married same-sex couples equal benefits before the Supreme Court's decision.

Gordon College in Massachusetts also said in a statement that 'We recognize that students at Gordon who identify as LGBTQ or experience same-sex attraction have often felt marginalized and alone, and recognize the pressing need for a safe campus environment for all students.'

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