In its decision in United States v. Windsor, the United States Supreme Court declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional. Section 3, which had defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, was found to violate the principles of equal protection. Soon thereafter, both the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor issued guidance making it clear that a same-sex marriage that is valid in the place of celebration (whether that be a state or a foreign jurisdiction having the legal authority to sanction marriage) will be recognized, regardless of the domicile of the parties. Both agencies further confirmed that the term marriage does not include registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or other formal relationships recognized under state law.
While the uniform definition of marriage and clarification that, for all federal purposes, the terms spouse, husband and wife will be defined on a gender-neutral basis, questions have remained with regard to the effects of the post-Windsor guidance on qualified retirement plans and other employee benefit programs.
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