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University student leader criticized over decision to veto pro-LGBT bills

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
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LINCOLN, Neb. — The Association of Students of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has voted to override two vetoes by the student senate’s president, one which expressed support for extending benefits to spouses of LGBT NU staff and faculty, and another bill that supported Lincoln’s LGBT-inclusive “fairness ordinance.”

Eric Kamler

The vetoes by Eric Kamler left many student puzzled, as they were a reversal of positions he publicly advocated in June when he represented the UNL’s student body at a session of the university’s Board of Regents.

In a statement explaining his veto, Kamler said he vetoed the domestic partner benefits bill because the program would cost the university too much money at a time when it’s facing budget cuts.

“I don’t feel that now is the right time to extend health benefits for anyone until we get a better picture of where we are going as a university in terms of growth and if we can meet our proposed growth goals,” he said.

According to a University of Nebraska spokesperson, the program will cost between $750,000 and $1.5 million based on an expected 100 to 200 new employee sign-ups.

Kamler also declined to add further explanation for his vetoes, other than to comment that he vetoed the bill supporting the Lincoln fairness ordinance because he does not believe the student senate should interject itself into such a contentious debate.

Emily Schlichting, a former member of the student government and author of the initial pieces of student government legislation, said she was happy to see a large majority of student senators override Kamler’s vetoes but said those vetoes sent the wrong message to many UNL students.

“The students, and more importantly the faculty and staff who are going to be benefiting from this policy, received a slap in the face,” she said.

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