To mark the one-year anniversary of the historic Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the White House announced the extension of new benefits to same-sex married couples.
For instance, the Department of Labor has said that it would clarify rules governing the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to allow gay workers nationwide to take a leave of absence from work to care for a same-sex spouse or other family member, regardless of the state in which the employee resides. In its current implementation, the law states that a "spouse" applies only to a same-sex spouse who resides in one of the 19 states (or the District of Columbia) that recognizes same-sex marriage.
The recent announcement extends changes that have occurred in the past year at other federal agencies to allow same-sex couples to receive many of the same rights and benefits that heterosexual married couples have long had access to. For example, the IRS recognizes the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. Federal immigration law now applies equally to gay and straight couples. And federal government agencies now extend the same health and life insurance benefits to spouses of gay employees.
A major sticking point in federal law pertains to the rules governing two agencies - the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs. While same-sex spouses can receive full benefits from those agencies if they live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, those who live in "nonrecognition" states face obstacles.
For its part the Obama administration has said that it will call on Congress to pass legislation to change some provisions under current law, especially as it applies to Social Security benefits and other agencies that still block access to benefits for gay married couples.
The administration has also said it has found "workarounds" in the existing law for some benefits. For instance, government attorneys said they have found legal basis for allowing same-sex spouses to be buried next to their spouses in VA cemeteries. In addition some inheritance law statues as they pertain to recognition versus nonrecognition states are broad enough to cover same-sex couples.
While last year's Supreme Court decision opened the door to more than 1,000 federal benefits that had previously been denied same-sex couples, there is still much work to be done to ensure that the law applies equally to all.
1. The New York Times, "Obama Extends Marriage Benefits to Gay Couples," June 20, 2014.
2. The Wall Street Journal, "Same-Sex Couples to Get More Benefits," June 20, 2014.
Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by Wealth Management Systems Inc. or its sources, neither Wealth Management Systems Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall Wealth Management Systems Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.
© 2014 Wealth Management Systems Inc. All rights reserved.
Robert J. Pyle, CFP®, CFA is president of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. (DAMI). DAMI is licensed as an investment adviser with the State of Colorado Division of Securities, and its investment advisory representatives are licensed by the State of Colorado. DAMI will only transact business in other states to the extent DAMI has made the requisite notice filings or obtained the necessary licensing in such state. No follow up or individualized responses to persons in other jurisdictions that involve either rendering or attempting to render personalized investment advice for compensation will be made absent compliance with applicable legal requirements, or an applicable exemption or exclusion. It does not constitute investment or tax advice. To contact Robert, call 303-440-2906 or e-mail email@example.com.
The views, opinion, information and content provided here are solely those of the respective authors, and may not represent the views or opinions of Diversified Asset Management, Inc. The selection of any posts or articles should not be regarded as an explicit or implicit endorsement or recommendation of any such posts or articles, or services provided or referenced and statements made by the authors of such posts or articles. Diversified Asset Management, Inc. cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such third party information or content, and does not undertake to verify or update such information or content. Any such information or other content should not be construed as investment, legal, accounting or tax advice.