The wall that once blocked same sex couples from obtaining federal marriage benefits is now obliterated.
After a long-fought battle, same sex couples finally won the right to marry in a Supreme Court ruling that changed America. The high court declared that no state can deny marriage rights to gay Americans on June 26 in a 5-4 decision.
“…Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch added a cherry on top of this historic moment by revealing that same sex couples will gain federal marriage benefits.
“Thanks to [Justice Department staff’s] leadership and the quick work of the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, today I am proud to announce that the critical programs for veterans and elderly and disabled Americans, which previously could not give effect to the marriages of couples living in states that did not recognize those marriages, will now provide federal recognition for all marriages nationwide,” Lynch said on Thursday.
These newly accessible federal marriage benefits include spousal survivor benefits, lump sum death benefits, programs for gay and lesbian service members, receiving health insurance through a spouse’s employer, obtaining immigration benefits for non-citizen spouses and much more.
Looking at it from a business standpoint, according to Houston Chronicle, employers are itching to drop their domestic partnership benefits, a perk designed “for employees to obtain health insurance and other benefits for their same-sex partners.” Now that everyone can get legally marry, companies are questioning whether they need to continue the program.
It’s a lot easier to run one benefit for everyone rather than two separate programs.
Jesse Gelsomini, an employment lawyer at Houston-based Haynes and Boone, predicts that when employers start dropping their domestic partnership programs — which benefits both heterosexual and homosexual unmarried couples — more people will be walking down the aisle. “They may not want to be married, but to keep the benefits they’ll have to get married,” he said.
In the end, Gelsomini thumbs up the ruling since it “levels the playing field.”
“Employers will no longer have to ask where the employee got married or where they’re living now to determine if the marriage is legally recognized,” Houston Chronicle said.