University domestic partner benefits: *Policy discourses about same -sex coverage

Byron Patrick McCrae, Fordham University


This study considered university-sponsored same-sex domestic partner benefits from analytic, critical, and persuasive discourse analysis frameworks. This research study was inspired and guided by the following questions: Have institutions of higher education employed similar arguments and strategies in the process of pursuing same-sex domestic partner benefits? At institutions where such a policy would not be expected---religion-affiliated colleges or universities, or institutions in states that voted Republican in the 2004 presidential election, for example---what arguments or strategies have been associated with the adoption of domestic partner benefits? What is the relationship between the policy discourses and the adoption, development, and implementation of domestic partner benefits policy? This study examined the policy arguments and strategies employed at one religiously affiliated institution and one state-funded institution, both located in the Southwestern United States in states that voted Republican in the 2004 Presidential election. Discourse analysis was employed as both a theoretical framework and a methodological tool. For the discourse analyses, the study examined campus-based domestic partner benefit policy proposals, news reports and studies about domestic partner benefits, and secondary source material including letters sent from campus leaders regarding policy proposals and notes from proposal planning meetings. This study discussed similarities and differences between the policy discourses and policy processes at these institutions, identified various ways policy discourses have impacted policymaking, and further observed how policy processes have also influenced policy discourses. This study found that the factors of values, viability, and venue figure prominently in policy processes related to the implementation of same-sex domestic partner benefits. Discourse analysis enabled the discussion to move from an anecdotal and atheoretical orientation to a place of informed understanding. Consequently, policy discourses and policy campaigns were understood in all of their dynamic complexity and potential future trends in policy discourse were noted.

Subject Area

School administration|Gender|Higher education

Recommended Citation

McCrae, Byron Patrick, "University domestic partner benefits: *Policy discourses about same -sex coverage" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3255012.