Domestic Partner Benefits: What you need to know

A domestic partnership generally refers to a committed relationship between two individuals who are either a same-sex or opposite-sex couple. Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2015, all states must license same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages entered into legally out of state. Several states recognize civil unions; some provide legal recognition to domestic partnerships. State laws may limit domestic partnership status to same-sex couples or to opposite-sex couples where one partner is at least 62 years of age or eligible for Social Security.
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Following legalization of same-sex marriage, some employers may opt to discontinue domestic partnership benefits because same-sex partners have the legal option to marry. Given the number of possible definitions, employers should determine their objectives and establish corresponding criteria when creating policies that will affect employees with domestic partners, taking care to clearly identify which relationships will meet their definition of domestic partnership.
In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all states must license same-sex marriages within their own states and legally recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state (Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14-556 (June 26, 2015)). For employers, this means that an employee with a same-sex spouse is entitled to the same benefits provided to an employee with an opposite-sex spouse.
Under a 2013 ruling by the Court, Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was found unconstitutional. DOMA limited to opposite-sex married couples the spousal rights and responsibilities available under federal laws, including laws ...

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