U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on Same-Sex Marriages Impact Employee Benefits


On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court (the “Court”) issued two decisions, finding that federal and California laws on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. These decisions will have far-reaching and wide-ranging consequences on employee benefits programs. This Alert highlights some of the benefits-related issues employers will need to address in the very near future in light of the Court’s decisions.


Section 3 of DOMA Is Unconstitutional. In U.S. v. Windsor, the Court ruled that section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional because it does not provide equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Section 3 of DOMA amended federal law to exclude samesex partners from the terms “marriage” and “spouse” as used in over 1,000 federal laws and related regulations.

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