Employer groups are pushing the Obama administration for guidance following the Supreme Court's June 26 decision that voided key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act. That decision becomes effective July 22.
Before then, employers are hoping to get some interim guidance or transition relief.
In a letter sent July 17 to the departments of Treasury, Labor, Health and Human Services, and the Internal Revenue Service, officials with the American Benefits Council noted that while not all states recognize same-sex marriages, “any rule that is adopted must allow for the uniform administration of plans at the federal level.”
To help benefits administrators, the council and others are arguing for quick recognition of “the state of celebration,” which means that a valid marriage license would be recognized anywhere.
“It's critical for us that they make a decision soon on recognition of the validity of the marriage. The only answer that will really work administratively is to choose 'state of celebration,'” Gretchen Young, senior vice president for health policy with the ERISA Industry Committee, said in an interview. “We are also anxious to have an effective date that gives employers flexibility,” said Ms. Young, whose organization represents large employers on benefit issues.
ABC President James Klein said in a statement that while the Supreme Court decision, which ABC supported, relieved employers of many financial and administrative burdens, “it created innumerable other questions that require prompt answers.”