As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor, the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service issued guidance holding that same-sex couples who were married in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriages will be recognized as married for federal tax purposes, regardless of where they currently live (the “state of celebration” approach).
On Sept. 18, the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) followed the example set by the IRS and announced that it will recognize same-sex marriages for federal purposes. The announcement extends federal employee benefit rights to married same-sex couples in all 50 states — even those with laws refusing to recognize marriage equality, like Pennsylvania.
The aftermath of the landmark ruling in June, which invalidated part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), put into question more than 1,000 federal laws relating to marital status, including Social Security, Medicaid, and federal tax benefits which on precedent use the “place of domicile” or primary residence to determine whether a person may receive spousal benefits.
The Labor Department now joins the IRS, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Immigration Department, Federal Benefits Agency, and the Veteran and Military Defense Agencies in using the “place of celebration” standard.
This means if a couple celebrated their marriage in a state or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage, they are considered married for federal purposes. The Social Security Administration has yet to adopt this standard but the effect of DOMA’s repeal, coupled with a demanding push for a uniform federal standard, could mean it’s only a matter of time.
Original Article published through The Philadelphia Business Journal accessible here: http://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/blog/guest-comment/2013/09/what-the-department-of-labor.html