Same-Sex Marriage Legalized In Three More States; Implications For Employee Benefit Plans

 

from Spencer’s Benefits Reports: On November 6, voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington approved the legalization of same-sex marriage in their states. In addition, voters in Minnesota rejected a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as an opposite-sex union. These outcomes have an implication for employers providing benefits for employees’ same-sex spouses and partners, especially for employers in these states who will need to respond to increased requests for spousal benefits from employees who enter into same-sex marriages.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. In addition, California continues to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed between June 16 and Nov. 4, 2008, the period in which same-sex marriage was legal in California.

While same-sex marriage is legal in these states, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for all purposes of federal law. While several cases on the constitutionality of DOMA are being considered by the Supreme Court, DOMA is still in effect and marriage continues to be defined as an opposite-sex union for all purposes of federal law.

In companies that provide health care benefits to domestic partners or same-sex spouses, employees are taxed on the amount by which the fair market value of health coverage for the domestic partner exceeds the amount, if any, paid after-tax by the employee for that coverage.

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