On 6/26/2016, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that statewide prohibitions on same-sex marriage violate the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore, all states must now allow same-sex couples to marry, as well as recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

As a result of this decision, any employer-sponsored benefit program that provides coverage to spouses must also be provided to same-sex spouses. Additionally, employer-sponsored health coverage for same-sex spouses may no longer be imputed as the employee’s income on state filings.

However, state insurance law does not apply to self-insured plans. Therefore, a question remains regarding whether the Supreme Court decision requires employers with self-insured plans to provide health coverage to same-sex spouses. Despite this ambiguity, employers who do not offer health coverage to same-sex spouses will be at risk for both state and federal discrimination claims by their employees.

Employers should review their benefit plans and ensure that any coverage offered to spouses is also offered to same-sex spouses.


The information and materials on this blog are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal or tax advice. Information provided in this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments and may vary by jurisdiction. The content on this blog is for general informational purposes only and does not apply to any particular facts or circumstances. The use of this blog does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship, nor should any such relationship be implied, and the contents do not constitute legal or tax advice. If you require legal or tax advice, please consult with a licensed attorney or tax professional in your jurisdiction. The contributing authors expressly disclaim all liability to any persons or entities with respect to any action or inaction based on the contents of this blog.

Bonnie Mangels – Bonnie is the Corporate Counsel and Senior Compliance Manager for Sequoia. When not inundated in paperwork and legal briefs, her interests include arts and crafts, bunnies, and the Bay Area.