Equal Retirement

Feds Say Same-Sex Spouses Must Get Equal Employment Benefits In Every State

Yet another ripple from the Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA: the Labor Department now says that same-sex married couples are entitled to the same employment benefits as straight married couples regardless of where they live. What this means is that your spouse can now participate in your company’s retirement plan, such as a 401K plans.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez called the ruling a “historic step forward.” Previously, Perez had hedged on whether the ruling from the Labor Department, which regulates private retirement plans, would apply in states that hadn’t legalized marriage equality. The new ruling clears that up.

“By providing greater clarity on how the Supreme Court’s decision affects one of the laws we enforce, we are contributing to greater equality and greater protection for America’s working families,” EBSA Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi said.

There are still some changes that the Labor Department can make to ensure greater equality. Chief among them: rewriting the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows employees to take time off from work to deal with family emergencies.