Insight to Action

Benefits & Healthcare Update: Supreme Court Rules Constitution Guarantees Same-Sex Marriage throughout United States

26 June 2015

Today the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the case Obergefell v. Hodges, finding that the U.S. Constitution prevents states from refusing to celebrate or recognize same-sex marriages. The effect of the decision is to simplify same-sex marriage law throughout the United States: all states and the federal government must conduct and recognize same-sex marriages as a valid marriage, with all rights and obligations attached.

For employers in states that already recognize same-sex marriages, this decision has little effect: the federal government has recognized same-sex marriage since the Windsor decision in 2013, and most states have begun recognizing and celebrating same-sex marriages for years. Going forward, there will be no U.S. jurisdiction in which same-sex marriages are not recognized or invalid except for reasons not related to the sex of the parties (such as age restrictions or being too closely related by blood). In the wake of Obergefell, employers and plans should treat all same-sex marriages as valid and the same as opposite-sex marriages.

The decision is available online at:

If you have any questions about the impact of Obergefell or how health and welfare plans should administer spousal benefits, please contact Ed Doherty at 646-839-8251 or via email at