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NU regents to vote on extending benefits to cohabitating couples

Regents at the University of Nebraska are scheduled to vote June 8 on expanding health insurance and other employee benefits to cohabitating and same-sex couples, a move opposed by Nebraska's bishops.

Archbishop George J. Lucas of Omaha, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln and Bishop William Dendinger of Grand Island are urging people who oppose the proposal to let each regent know their concerns before the vote.

Extending spousal benefits to unmarried partners would undermine the institution of marriage, which is the foundation of the family and provides the best environment for nurturing children, said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha.

"As a fundamentally false equality, it would demean and devalue marriage and say that marriage really doesn't matter," Deacon McNeil said.

As leaders of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, the bishops stated their opposition to the proposal in a letter to each regent a couple of months ago, Deacon McNeil said, and they are urging others to take similar action.

The eight regents can be contacted through a website established by the university for comments, at

They also can be reached directly by email, with Timothy Clare at; Dr. Randolph Ferlic at; Chuck Hassebrook at; Howard Hawks at; Jim McClurg at; Bob Phares at; Kent Schroeder at; and Bob Whitehouse at

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