As we reported last week, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states must provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples and they must recognize same-sex marriages that were made in other states. Obergefell v. Hodges (U.S. 2015). In Obergefell, the majority held the right to marry is fundamental and under the 14th Amendment, “couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and liberty.” Prior to this decision, same-sex marriage was legal in 37 states. Each dissenting justice wrote a separate opinion questioning the majority decision for various reasons.
The decision was released on the anniversary of the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor (U.S. 2013), which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Since that decision, multi-state employers have struggled to manage the impact on their benefit plans because of the inconsistent laws across states. Speculation has already begun regarding expansion of employment discrimination laws to prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation.
MSEC attorneys and HR professionals are available to guide members through these issues. Watch for upcoming Bulletin articles, and don’t hesitate to call on our staff with your questions and concerns.