For most people across the state, the upcoming election means more than just who will become the next president, it could change whether employers offer benefits to same-sex couples or not.
Currently, some employers offer benefit packages to same-sex couples or people who are in domestic partnerships, but as many recent court cases have pointed out, there are still several employers who are enforcing laws primarily used for government workers.
The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA as it sometimes referred to, states that no U.S. state or political subdivision is required to recognized same-sex marriage from another state. What this means for many same-sex couples is that they may not receive many of the benefits-such as insurance benefits or family medical leave time-that heterosexual couples enjoy.
Recent lawsuits against employers have highlighted the unconstitutional nature of DOMA, pointing out that its violation of equal protection means that employers could be participating in workplace discrimination without even realizing it. Because a majority of the cases hold national appeal, experts anticipate that the U.S. Supreme Court may debate this issue more thoroughly this term compared to previous years.
As one New York lawyer points out, “When the idea is that individuals should be treated equally-that they shouldn’t be treated differently because of their sexual orientation-how is it a huge leap to then say that there should be a law covering discrimination against these folks?” If the U.S. Supreme Court does step in on this issue it could make for considerable change for GLBT employees in the workplace and could forever change equal employment opportunity policies forever.
Source: Corporate Counsel, “As law, culture shift on same-sex marriage, employers are making changes,” Shannon Green, Oct. 23, 2012