The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled that state laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage violate the state constitution, allowing same-sex couples to marry in Massachusetts (Goodridge v. Dep't of Pub. Health, 440 Mass. 309 (Mass. 2003)). Same-sex couples residing in Massachusetts have been able to marry since May 17, 2004, and those who reside outside the state have been able to marry in Massachusetts since July 31, 2008.
Effect on employers. Employers in Massachusetts are required to provide the same benefits, such as health insurance, to same-sex spouses of employees that are provided to opposite-sex spouses. Employees with same-sex spouses are entitled to family leave benefits and deductions provided for under state tax laws.
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 Massachusetts court ruling.
Tax consequences. Under federal law, an employer's contribution to health insurance for a spouse is exempt from taxation. However, because of DOMA, this amount is included in taxable income under federal law when the insurance is for a same-sex spouse, unless the spouse qualifies as a dependent under federal tax law. An employer's contribution to health insurance for a same-sex spouse is exempt from taxation under Massachusetts personal income tax laws.
Recognition of out-of-state unions. Massachusetts recognizes any marriage legally entered into in another jurisdiction.