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Respect for Marriage Act Would Protect Same-Sex Couples’ Company Benefits

The Respect for Marriage Act would preserve the company benefits of same-sex couples. The legislation, which passed the US Senate on November 29, was inspired by concerns that the US Supreme Court might reconsider its landmark same-sex marriage decision.

In this SHRM articleMcDermott Partner Todd Solomon noted that federal and state law no longer distinguish between same-sex or opposite-sex marriages.

“Same-sex spouses must be extended spousal benefit coverage by employers” for fully insured health plans, Solomon said.

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Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in All 50 States: So What Now?

Now that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, most benefits plans will treat same-sex spouses the same as opposite-sex spouses. But several tricky issues remain. For example, what if an employer with religious beliefs wants to continue to exclude same-sex spouses from receiving benefits under its retirement plans? Or its medical and dental plans? Are employers that deny coverage vulnerable to sexual orientation and/or sex discrimination lawsuits under state and local law or to federal Title VII lawsuits? What has the EEOC said about this issue? In addition, should employers consider dropping benefits for unmarried partners? Is the answer different if the employer’s plans cover both same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex partners?

The following presentation highlights some of these considerations.

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