The Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It's a major victory for the gay rights movement, as legally married same-sex couples are now entitled to certain federal benefits. But what does this mean for small business owners?
If your company hasn't done so already, your employee benefits package may need to be updated to include married gay or lesbian employees who are eligible for federal benefits.
In the wake of the DOMA ruling, gay couples stand to receive thousands of benefits, reports NBC News.
These federal benefits include:
Despite the DOMA ruling, same-sex couples living in the 38 states that don't recognize same-sex marriage may only get a fraction of federal spousal benefits.
The IRS, for example, would award estate tax exemptions to gay spouses based solely on laws in the state where they live. So that leaves out gay couples living in states with bans on same-sex marriages.
"Different federal programs have different standards," a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group, told NBC News. "It's murky."
So if your employee got married in Massachusetts and lives in Alabama, he or she will receive some benefits, but not others. It's a bit up in the air.
One way to avoid the confusion is to move with the times and implement a progressive benefits policy. You may want to consider doing what the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies have done by introducing a benefits policy with greater workplace equality.
With the Defense of Marriage Act struck down, employers now have a decision to make. You can do the bare minimum to comply with the law, or you can go the extra mile to show your employees that they are valued and respected for who they are.
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