Last week’s Supreme Court that struck down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act and required the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage will have far-ranging implications for employee benefit plans.

In 1996, Congress enacted the DOMA, which defined marriage as "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. . . ." Last week's decision declared that section of DOMA to be unconstitutional, so couples that have married in states that recognize same-sex marriage are now entitled to the same federal protections and privileges that come with traditional marriage, including in the employee benefits arena. Pending additional federal guidance, employers and their advisers should now begin considering these issues and the benefit administrative areas affected.

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