Update – Administering Benefits in a Post-DOMA World

Here is a brief update to our September 24, 2013 alert, which addressed the administration of employee benefits as well as federal income taxes and FMLA leave following this summer’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor. In Windsor, the Court struck down Section III of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), holding that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to define marriage for purposes of administering federal laws such as the Internal Revenue Code, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

The Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has now released guidance stating that for purposes of administering employee benefits governed by ERISA, same-sex couples shall be treated as spouses if they were lawfully married in a U.S. or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage. This is known as the "celebration" rule (i.e., spouses are deemed to be married for purposes of ERISA based on where they "celebrated" or entered their marriage, rather than based on where they currently live).

Please see full alert below for more information.

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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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