Further cementing marriage equality into the federal bureaucracy, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced that any health plan offered to married couples under the Affordable Care Act have to cover same-sex married couples too. While HHS is asking insurers to institute the policy voluntarily immediately, the policy will be mandatory on January 1, 2015.
The move is another effort by the Obama administration to codify marriage equality in federal regulation and to erode the effect of state bans. Each move makes it harder for a future administration to undo the gains made to date. Of course, the Supreme Court could make those concerns moot by settling the question once and for all.
As a practical matter, however, the HHS ruling comes a little late in the game. The decision comes with only two weeks left to sign up for health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.