Did the UW Board of Regents "play politics" in passing a resolution opposing the marriage amendment? I guess it depends on what you think that the role of the Regents is supposed to be. Should they take positions on issues that are outside of their authority but which they think will have an impact on the university? Apart from whether it is politically smart to do so, that they may weigh in on things that they think will affect the system does not shock me.
Having said that, however, it strikes me as inappropriate and foolish for them to put a partisan spin on it. Board President David Walsh statement that "Mark Green and others will say we're out of step with the mainstream." I suppose that he will (actually, he has) but it's inappropriate for Walsh to involve himself in the gubernatorial race in his capacity as a Regent. It's also ill advised. Green may be (probably will be)Governor in January. We know Walsh is a Democrat, but why go out of your way to make an enemy?
As to the merits, the idea that the amendment would prohibit the university from extending benefits to an employee's designated domestic partner seems to be weak. It is inconsistent with the amendment's language (giving someone health insurance does not create or recognize a status substantially similar to marriage) and is contrary to the expressed intent of the amendment's author. I know that some people take the opposing view, but it strikes me as a stretch.
As for the supposed value of domestic partner benefits is attracting employees, strike me as skeptical. Organizations that have made these benefits available find that they are rarely used. They may be a good idea but I doubt that they have any substantial impact on recruiting. Universities offer them because the kind of people who run universities tend to favor them. There's nothing wrong with that but the absence (or presence) of such benefits is not going to make or break the UW.