Notre Dame to extend benefits to same-sex spouses

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame has told employees it's extending health care and other benefits to same-sex spouses after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage in Indiana and 10 other states.

The university sent out an email to employees Wednesday night informing employees of the change, saying it was doing so because Indiana law now recognizes same-sex marriages. The Indiana attorney general's office told county clerks Tuesday that they must issue marriage licenses to gay couples. That came after a federal appeals court in Chicago formally lifted Indiana's gay marriage ban after the U.S. Supreme Court's refused earlier this week to hear appeals.

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

Aaron Nichols, an openly gay staff member in Notre Dame's College of Arts & Letters, told the South Bend Tribune he was surprised by the university's change in policy. He said the university has made remarkable progress in recent years to make the campus a more welcoming place for gay students and employees.

"Being an out staff member, I feel a lot more confident that my concerns are being heard and responded to," Nichols said. "The university is no longer acting in a vacuum."

The number of families who will be covered under the expanded policy won't be known until employees begin signing up for the benefits, university Paul Browne said.

Saint Mary's, a Catholic women's college near Notre Dame, also will follow the law and immediately extend benefits to same-sex spouses of employees, spokeswoman Gwen O'Brien said.

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