The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that state laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage are unconstitutional, allowing same-sex couples to marry in Connecticut (Kerrigan et al. v. Cmsr. of Public Health et al., 289 Conn. 135 (2008)). The state's marriage law was subsequently amended to define marriage as a union of two persons (CT Gen. Stat. Sec. 46b-20).
Effect on employers. The changes may have little practical effect on employers in Connecticut because prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, the state's same-sex civil union law required that the parties to a civil union have all the “same benefits, protections, and responsibilities as are granted to spouses in a marriage.”
Civil union couples were able to obtain a marriage license and have the civil union merged into the marriage as of the date the marriage certificate was recorded. Existing civil unions were merged into marriages by operation of law as of October 1, 2010 (CT Gen. Stat. Sec. 46b-38rr). Civil unions may no longer be established under state law.
A Connecticut employer is required to provide the same state-regulated benefits, such as health insurance, to same-sex spouses of its employees that it provides to opposite-sex spouses. Employees with same-sex spouses are entitled to family leave benefits and deductions provided for under state and municipal taxation.
Note: Under the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex partners cannot be treated as spouses because marriage is defined as only between a man and a woman. Therefore, employee benefits regulated by federal law such as ERISA and federal income tax law are not affected by the Connecticut court ruling.
A federal district court has ruled that DOMA is ...