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

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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.

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.

Please see full alert below for more information.

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