SURVEY SAYS: Preparing for DOMA Decision Changes

August 26, 2013 ( - Last week, we asked readers what actions they have taken in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), if any.

It seems that those for whom this decision would change the status quo are in the minority, as most respondents (67.6%) work for a company whose headquarters is not in a state that allows same-sex marriages.

However, it was almost evenly split when we asked whether your companies have employees in both states that allow same-sex marriages and states that do not: 47.1% said yes, and 52.9% said no.

When asked what actions have been taken in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the clear plurality (41.2%) responded “we have done nothing yet in response to the decision.”   

The next most common answer, with 26.5% of the vote, was “we have identified instances in our plan documents where definitions of “spouse” and “married” may or may not need to change.”

Three answers tied for third place, with 23.5% of respondents answering affirmatively for each of: “we have met with legal counsel to discuss what the decision means for our plans”; “we have identified plan processes that may need to be changed”; and “we have identified issues we are unclear about and what we will do until new guidance is issued.”

Rounding out the choices were: we don’t need to do anything, our benefits recognize same-sex spouses (11.8%); “we have already changed plan processes or have a timeline for when things will change” (8.8%)l and we have communicated with employees about what the decision means for their benefits and our processes and about still unanswered questions (5.9%)

The verbatims ranged from the topic of administrating plans to comments about the Supreme Court decision.

However, in light of how many reader’s said they weren’t doing anything yet, the Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who clearly has lots to think about: “Since we’re in 44 states, this is very complex for us. It will take significant programming to track where employees were married versus where they live – and if they move to a state that doesn’t recognize their marriage.”

Other verbatims:

"Long term, progress; short term, headaches."

"Happy to do it!"

"It will be interesting to see just how long it takes for the aftermath of this - and the Obamacare mandates - to completely undermine (and perhaps lead to the elimination of) workplace benefits as we know them today. Not that the Supreme Court has to care about such things. But someone should."

"NO comment."

"Garbage decision, as are most from the Supreme Court anymore."

"Waiting for the IRS to issue guidance."

"I don't know what's right or wrong anymore, but learning quickly, and with concern, that it's no longer about right or wrong, only about political correctness. I'm anxious to see what pc thing we'll have to do to placate this group, maybe hypenation, too."

"It's a little early to "call" this yet, but I think the Supreme Court's ruling here, and the obligations of Obamacare will lead to the elimination of many/most workplace least those that are extended beyond the individual employee. Where THAT takes us is anybody's guess, but I'm sure it will be unpleasant for many, and extraordinarily costly for many more. Time will tell..."