Employer Considerations After the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Westlaw Journal Employment

Authored Article

In June the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015), striking down bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional and legalizing same-sex marriage in every state. In a 5-4 opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and the Equal Protection Clauses … couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”

The court articulated four reasons that marriage is a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution, including that the Supreme Court’s “cases and the nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of the nation’s social order. … [Y]et same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the states have linked to marriage.”

Given this reason, employers across the nation should review their policies and benefits coverage as they pertain to employee families in light of the Obergefell opinion.

Before the Obergefell ruling, employers with employees in more than one state faced a patchwork of state and federal laws on whether a same-sex spouse was a legal spouse, and if so, the legal ramifications in each state. While the ruling simplifies the law on spousal recognition, it raises additional questions about spousal benefits.

Click here to read the full article, “Employer Considerations After the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling.” Republished with permission. This article first appeared in Westlaw Journal Employment on September 15, 2015.