With same-sex marriage now legal in 35 states and the District of Columbia, some employers that formerly covered domestic partners say they will require marriage licenses for workers who want those perks.It is a reminder that "when marriage laws change, so do tax laws." Some same-sex advocates aren't happy with those changes.
“We’re bringing our benefits in line, making them consistent with what we do for everyone else,” said Ray McConville, a spokesman for Verizon, which notified non-union employees in July that domestic partners in states where same-sex marriage is legal must wed if they want to qualify for such benefits.
Employers making the changes say that since couples now have the legal right to marry, they no longer need to provide an alternative. Such rule changes could also apply to opposite-sex partners covered under domestic partner arrangements.
“The biggest question is: Will companies get rid of benefit programs for unmarried partners?” said Todd Solomon, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago.
It is legal for employers to set eligibility requirements for the benefits they offer workers and their families — although some states, such as California, bar employers from excluding same-sex partners from benefits. But some benefit consultants and advocacy groups say there are legal, financial and other reasons why couples may not want to marry.More at Once, Same-Sex Couples Couldn't Wed; Now, Some Employers Say They Must, PBS
Requiring marriage licenses is “a little bossy” and feels like “it’s not a voluntary choice at that point,” said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, an organization advocating for gay, lesbian and transgender people.