U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals smoothed the way for same-sex marriages to begin again in California
Less than 48 hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn the lower Court’s ruling that Proposition 8 (which banned same-sex marriages) was unconstitutional in California, the first marriage license was issued. This means that the State of California will now join with the other 12 States, plus the District of Columbia in allowing domestic partners to marry and receive the same benefits afforded spouses in traditional marriages.
Governor Brown stated that in addition to allowing marriage licenses for domestic partners to begin immediately, that same-sex couples who were legally married in another jurisdiction “will be considered already legally married under California marriage licensing and certification laws and they should not be issued a new marriage license.”
At this moment, marriage between same-sex partners remains the law of the State according to Governor Brown. But those who supported Proposition 8 have not given up the fight. On Saturday, an emergency application was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate the decision made on Friday by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. It is yet to be determined if and/or when the court might review the request.
States (including DC) that currently recognize same-sex marriages are:
- District of Columbia
- Minnesota (effective August 1, 2013)
- New Hampshire
- New York
- Rhode Island
States to Watch
New Jersey: Polls in this State show the majority of people support same-sex marriages. However, Governor Christie opposes it. New Jersey currently allows civil unions but after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, gay rights groups want full marriages. Hayley Gorenberg, an attorney with Lambda Legal, stated at a rally held on Thursday that there’s a clear legal argument to allow same-sex marriages in New Jersey.
Pennsylvania: Several Democratic lawmakers are trying to introduce a bill to make same-sex marriages legal. However, most agree that it will be tough to get the bill passed with the Republican majority in the legislature unwilling to support the measure.
Illinois: Civil Unions are already recognized in this State. Governor Pat Quinn has gone on the record indicating his support for same-sex marriages in Illinois.
Colorado: Similarly to Illinois, civil unions are currently allowed in the State. Proponents of same-sex marriages believe after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, they now have a legal argument to allow them to challenge the current law.
These are just a few of the States that along with California could have changes made to their State laws to allow same-sex marriages. With approximately 30% of the population living in States that currently recognize marriages for domestic partners, there is likely to be more challenges on the horizon.
What Should Employers Do Now?
Even if a company’s employees currently do not reside within one of the States that allow same-sex marriages, this could change and quickly. For States where the laws don’t change, employee benefits under Federal regulations could be impacted. Consequently, employers should stay up to date on what is happening on both the State and Federal level to ensure they remain compliant with the current regulations affected by a change in status for domestic partners.
Our previous article, US Supreme Court’s Decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, contains an overview of some of the areas employers may need to address regarding domestic partners.
Learn More About the Impact of the Recent Court Ruling on Employee Benefit Administration
For more in depth details on how this may impact your benefit plans, we are offering a training session on Domestic Partner Challenges after the DOMA Ruling. Join us on July 9, 2013 to discuss how this ruling could affect your employees. Subscribe to our News Blog today to receive up-to-date information on this issue as well as others that affect Employee Benefit Professionals.