The Defense of Marriage Act and Employee Benefits – Is the Tide Turning?

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which provides that under federal law marriage is between one man and one woman, is no stranger to employers. DOMA is the reason that employer health benefits provided to same-sex spouses are taxable, and is the reason that tax-qualified plans are not required to provide survivor benefits to same-sex spouses. DOMA also is shaping up to be no stranger to the news in 2012. This year, two federal courts – including one at the First Circuit Court of Appeals level – have ruled the provision of DOMA that limits marriage to an opposite-sex union unconstitutional.