Addressing Domestic Partner Benefits After Obergefell

Jamie Scott

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that states must permit and recognize same-sex marriages, employers that have previously provided for domestic partner benefits may want to address whether those benefits should be continued. Factors to be considered include:

  1. Employers that have in the past only provided same-sex domestic partner benefits, and that wish continue those benefits, may be subject to discrimination claims by opposite sex domestic partners.

  2. There is a risk of adverse selection posed by domestic partnerships. Because domestic partnerships do not involve all of the legal entanglements of a marriage, they are more likely to be entered solely for purposes of obtaining benefits.

  3. The tax complexities associated with domestic partner benefits could be eliminated.

Employers that decide to eliminate domestic partner benefits may want to provide a significant transition period so that employees can either decide to get married or find alternative coverage.