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DOL Issues Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage and Employee Benefit Plans.

September 30, 2013

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, striking down provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, the Department of Labor (DOL) has released a guidance regarding the impact of that decision on employee benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).  The guidance makes clear that the terms “spouse” and “marriage” in ERISA includes same-sex spouses who were legally married in any state or other jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriages, regardless of where they now live.  Therefore, same-sex spouses are entitled to participate in benefit plans governed by ERISA.