PA Overturns Same-Sex Marriage Ban – Employers Face Significant Changes in Employee Benefits and Leave Administration


As a result of the same-sex marriage ban in Pennsylvania being overturned and recent IRS guidance, employers need to be aware of – and immediately implement – significant changes in employee benefit programs and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave policies.

Last year, Section 3 of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman, was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. This ruling meant that individual states were free to decide the issue of whether to overturn their own same-sex marriage bans. On Tuesday, May 20, Pennsylvania became the latest state to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage. The case, Whitewood v. Wolf, decided by District Judge John E. Jones, struck down a 1996 Pennsylvania statute mirroring DOMA. Shortly after the May 20 ruling, Governor Tom Corbett announced his intention not to appeal, meaning the decision went into effect immediately.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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