HR Legal Update: #DOMA

The Impact of #SCOTUS #DOMA Ruling on HR

One of the most historical decisions made by #SCOTUS this past week was their ruling on #DOMA. When the Supreme Court ruled that the federal ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional my inner HR lady came out (after celebrations of course) and thought what impact does this have on the human resource world. When DOMA was struck down it gave over 37 million gay americans access a list of benefits that the federal government once denied.

HR Legal Update: #DOMA

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional. Basically this means that same-sex couples are now granted the rights as heterosexual couples. Thousands of federal laws and official regulations now cover marriages between hetero and homosexual couples. While the ruling on section 3 of DOMA was a win for same-sex couples, it’s not the end to the fight for equality across the board. In the states that same-sex marriage has been legalized the ruling by SCOTUS will mean changes to policies across the board in your Human Resources department.

The Society of Human Resources Management has done a really good job of defining out what types of benefits/medical changes that will have to take place now that a decision has been rendered on this federal law. Here are a few of the changes that will be going into affect:

  • Employer benefit programs will be overhauled to calculate and automatically name beneficiaries for all same sex couples. No longer will these couples be treated as two indviduals, but one unified marriage, like heterosexual couples have been since the beginning of time.
  • COBRA will now be offered across the board to same-sex and hetrosexual couples.
  • Medical leave for same-sex partners will now have to be recognized.
  • Survival spouse annuities will now have to be recognized when it comes to employee pension plans
  • Tax benefits will now expand to both federal and state tax returns.

This decision was a step in the right direction, but there are a lot more battles to be won before equality is won for everyone.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.


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