Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Marriage is Constitutional Right; Strikes Down State Bans

Submitted by Firm:
Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus, P.C.
Firm Contacts:
Abtin Mehdizadegan, J. Bruce Cross, Misty Wilson Borkowski
Article Type:
Legal Update

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.

The five-justice majority held in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Fourteenth Amendment affords same-sex couples a fundamental right of marriage and that states that ban such marriages violate the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the law. Under the Court's ruling, all states must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and recognize lawful same-sex marriages from other states.

The ruling has a sweeping impact on employers who must also recognize valid marriages.  For instance, employers will be required to:

  • Provide leave to same-sex spouses if covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act;
  • Review existing benefit plan documents to ensure that benefits are fully available to same-sex spouses;
  • Provide COBRA benefits to same-sex spouses; and
  • Update federal and state employee taxation information.

We recommend a complete audit of your company's policies and practices to determine how your company can quickly come into compliance with the law.