Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Employee Benefits and CA Same Sex Marriage

If you are wondering what the CA ssm ruling means for employer benefits, you can find out here.
On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court issued a landmark decision, In re Marriage Cases, which invalidates the requirement under California law that only a man and a woman can enter into a valid marriage. By a 4–3 vote, the Court ruled that this requirement violates various provisions of the California Constitution and ordered state and local officials to start issuing marriage licenses to couples of the same sex. When the decision takes effect on June 14, 2008, California will join Massachusetts as the only states that recognize same-sex marriages.

This development raises the question of whether an employee benefit plan may, must or cannot recognize same-sex marriages in applying plan provisions that involve a participant's marital status. The answer is not as straightforward as one might think. It requires an analysis of not only how California state law defines marriage, but what the plan says about marriage and in what contexts, and also what the Federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"), enacted in 1996, has to say about marriage and how that affects plans governed by federal law.

No comments: