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Labor Dept: Same-Sex Spouses Must Receive Benefits Regardless of State Laws

Labor Dept: Same-Sex Spouses Must Receive Benefits Regardless of State Laws

On September 18, the Obama Labor Department announced that married same-sex couples must receive the same pensions, 401(k)s, health plans, and employee benefits as heterosexual married couples, regardless of whether they live in one of the 37 states where same-sex marriage is illegal. 

“This decision represents a historic step forward toward equality for all American families,” said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. “I have directed the department’s agency heads to ensure that they are implementing the decision in a way that provides maximum protection for workers and their families.”

The Labor Department said its interpretation “provides a uniform rule of recognition that can be applied with certainty by stakeholders, including employers, plan administrators, participants, and beneficiaries.”

Gay marriage is now legal in 13 states and the District of Columbia. The new ruling will require the 37 states where gay marriage is illegal to extend spousal benefits to same-sex couples. 

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