ERIC President Scott Macey Comments on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8

June 26, 2013

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ERIC Press Statement

For Immediate Release:  June 26, 2013

Washington, D.C. -- ERIC President Scott Macey Comments on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8:

“Today’s rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court could have a significant impact on the way employee benefit plans are administered.  Companies will need to carefully evaluate their plans in light of these decisions.  Briefly, the Court invalidated DOMA and held that the Court and the Ninth Circuit lacked jurisdiction to consider the California Proposition 8 appeal (apparently meaning that the district court ruling prohibiting the state government from enforcing Proposition 8’s ban on same sex marriage remains in effect).

“Today’s decisions mean that valid same sex marriages in a state that recognizes them must be recognized by the federal government.  That recognition would include tax and ERISA employee benefit matters, including presumably the recognition of tax-exempt spousal coverage under a health plan and the right to a qualified joint and survivor annuity under a pension plan.”

“Notably, the decisions leave many issues unanswered. Among the issues that will need to be addressed further include how quickly plans will need to act as a result of the Court’s decisions and the best methods for implementing these changes.  Employers clearly will want to review their current plans and policies with respect to same-sex spouses to determine whether they are in compliance with applicable post-decision rules, determine what actions need to be taken, and what areas might need further clarification from the federal government or the courts.

“ERIC is concerned about the ability of companies that operate nationwide to administer their plans in a uniform manner. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 was structured to allow employers of all sizes to maintain and offer health and retirement benefits under a single set of rules regardless of where they do business or how many states their employees and retirees reside in.  Some possible uncertainties left by the Court’s decisions could adversely impact the administration of employer-sponsored benefit plans if it results in having to comply with overlapping and inconsistent state laws.”

ERIC President Scott Macey is available to discuss the potential ramifications of today’s decisions as they relate to the administration of employer-sponsored benefit plans.

If you are interested in setting up an interview or if you have any additional questions, contact Ted Godbout at 202-627-1918 or by email (tgodbout@eric.org). 

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For more information:

Ted Godbout
Director, Communications
The ERISA Industry Committee
1400 L Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-627-1918
tgodbout@eric.org
www.eric.org

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The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) is a non-profit association committed to representing the advancement of the employee retirement, health, and compensation plans of America's largest employers.  ERIC's members provide benchmark retirement, health care coverage, compensation, and other economic security benefits directly to tens of millions of active and retired workers and their families.  ERIC has a strong interest in proposals affecting its members' ability to deliver those benefits, their cost and their effectiveness, as well as the role of those benefits in the American economy.