Same-sex marriages in Oregon became lawful following a federal district court decision that struck down as unconstitutional the state's ban on same-sex marriage (Geiger v. Kitzhaber, 994 F. Supp. 2d 1128 (D. Or. 2014)). The decision also requires legal recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.
The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently issued a decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all states and requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions (Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S.Ct. 2584 (2015)).
Self-funded employee benefit plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) are subject to federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman (United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013)). The ruling requires equal treatment under federal law of spouses in legally recognized same-sex and opposite-sex marriages. Therefore, employee benefits regulated by federal law such as ERISA and federal income tax law must provide equally for those in same-sex and opposite-sex marriages. There may be narrow exceptions under ERISA that permit self-funded plans to exclude coverage for employees’ same-sex spouses, but such exclusions may subject an employer to discrimination claims.
Fully insured health plans are subject to state laws. Employers offering employees state-regulated coverage are required to offer coverage to employees' same-sex spouses on the same terms offered to employees' opposite-sex spouses. Likewise, health plans sponsored by state public sector employers are subject ...