On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court announced decisions in two significant cases regarding laws affecting same-sex marriage — the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8. In this article, we provide a brief review of what we learned yesterday, thoughts on the potential impact to employers, as well as a link to download a detailed Legislative Brief on this important topic.
Brief Overview of the DOMA Ruling
In its ruling, the Court concluded that DOMA’s definition of marriage is invalid because it singles out a class of individuals “deemed by a state entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.”
The Court also concluded that DOMA treats same-sex marriages that are legal under state law as less respected than heterosexual marriages. The Court held that this section of DOMA is invalid, and that the state’s definition of marriage will apply for purposes of federal law.
The Impact on Individuals and Employers
The ruling on these cases will certainly have an impact on many individuals. It will also create issues for state and federal governments and employers. In the days to come, we expect decisions will be made by state and federal agencies on how to specifically implement these rulings.
Employers in states that permit same-sex marriage may need to review their current policies to determine whether they are affected by the decision on DOMA. Guidance is anticipated from agencies affected by the revised definitions of spouse and marriage on how the ruling affects the laws they enforce, but the Court has essentially redefined these terms under the law. Protections granted to opposite-sex spouses by federal law must now be provided to legal same-sex spouses as well.
Download this Important Legislative Brief
CBG Benefits will continue to monitor for additional information as it is released regarding these rulings. If you have any questions, please contact your CBG Benefits’ representative at 781-759-1222.
In the meantime, please download this detailed Legislative Brief for more information on this important topic.