Saturday, September 21, 2013

Labor Department Recognizes Same-Sex Marriages Under ERISA

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor issued Technical Release No. 2013-04  providing guidance on applying the Supreme Court's Windsor decision to regulations under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code relating to employee benefit plans. (News release.) The Technical Release provides in part:
the term "spouse" will be read to refer to any individuals who are lawfully married under any state law, including individuals married to a person of the same sex who were legally married in a state that recognizes such marriages, but who are domiciled in a state that does not recognize such marriages. Similarly, the term "marriage" will be read to include a same-sex marriage that is legally recognized as a marriage under any state law....
The terms "spouse" and "marriage," however, do not include individuals in a formal relationship recognized by a state that is not denominated a marriage under state law, such as a domestic partnership or a civil union, regardless of whether the individuals who are in these relationships have the same rights and responsibilities as those individuals who are married under state law. The foregoing sentence applies to individuals who are in these relationships with an individual of the opposite sex or same sex.
[Thanks to Alliance Alert for the lead.]