U.S. Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Partners Have a Constitutional Right to Marry.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges that the right to marry is a fundamental right extended to same-sex couples under the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. The Court’s 5-4 decision requires each state to license same-sex marriages and recognize lawful same-sex marriages performed out of state. The ruling follows the Court’s 2013 Windsor decision that invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) and required recognition of same-sex marriage under federal law. While retirement plans were required to be amended by December 31, 2014 to comply with Windsor and related IRS guidance, this ruling could have far reaching effects for insured benefit plans, which are generally subject to state law. Employers are encouraged to review their plan documents and internal administrative procedures in light of the Supreme Court’s most recent ruling as we await further guidance from regulatory agencies.