High Court Marriage Decision Will Affect Health Benefits

An expert from PwC says the ruling will have little impact on retirement plans.

By Rebecca Moore | June 26, 2015
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The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that under the Fourteenth Amendment, states cannot deny same-gender couples the right to marry, and it is illegal for states to not recognize same-gender marriages performed in another state.

In its opinion, the high court said the state laws challenged by the petitioners in the cases are held invalid to the extent they exclude same-gender couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-gender couples. It also said “individuals who are harmed need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right.”

In a statement after the ruling, Annette Guarisco Fildes, president and CEO of The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), said: “Today’s decision means that same-sex marriages must be recognized throughout the U.S. Because of this, more employees will be able to marry and provide benefits for their spouses on a tax-free basis.

“The nation’s top employers, many of whom are members of ERIC, will be relieved to be able to treat their employees uniformly, regardless of where they live or work.

“ERIC supports the uniformity of common employee benefit rules and policies across the country, as its members operate and provide benefits to their employees in all 50 states.  Today’s decision helps our industry with that federally needed consistency.”

Coming up: What’s next for employers?