Marriage Equality Nationwide Changes Benefits Landscape | Johnson & Dugan

By Stephen Miller, CEBS
LAS VEGAS—“Everything has changed regarding benefits for same-sex couples” in the last few years, culminating with the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26, 2015, ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, said benefits attorney Todd Solomon, a partner of law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP. Speaking four days after the landmark ruling at the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition, Solomon looked at the steps employers must now take to comply with the high court’s ruling that the U.S. Constitution requires same-sex marriage to be recognized throughout the United States.
Many of the changes requiring equal treatment of same-sex spouses in employee benefit plans have already been made by employers in states that had previously recognized same-sex marriage, especially following a June 2013 Supreme Court decision, U.S. v. Windsor, which found one provision of the President Bill Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional (thereby extending federal recognition, and the application of federal laws, to same-sex marriages). But “in states that had not recognized same-sex marriage, many exclusions remained, and these have now been swept away” by Obergefell, Solomon noted.
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