The Department of Labor has announced that same-sex couples who are legally married will be able to participate in their spouse’s employee benefit plans. Even if same-sex couples are living in a state that does not recognize gay marriage, these individuals can take advantage of private retirement and healthcare plans offered by employers. This decision comes on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling that federal benefits would be offered to same-sex couples. In addition to this, it has been determined that same-sex couples will be able to take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act.
According to the Labor Secretary, the government is going to implement this new law in a way that provides as much protection to American workers as possible. A spokeswoman for the Employee Benefits Security Administration has stated that this announcement helps to clarify how the Supreme Court ruling will impact current laws, and she believes that it will be helpful to the families of workers.
It was decided early on that as a result of the Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples would have access to employer benefit plans. The question was if these new regulations would apply to all states or only states that recognized gay marriage. Unsurprisingly, gay rights groups have lauded the decision by the government to follow state of celebration rules, which recognize gay marriages no matter what state law says.
Texas not currently recognizing same-sex marriage does not mean that people in the state have no way of protecting their rights. A lawyer could help a couple draw up a domestic partnership agreement that can help ensure someone’s financial and property rights in the case of divorce or separation.
Source: Reuters, “Labor Dept: same-sex spouses can participate in benefit plans“, Amanda Becker, September 18, 2013