- On July 8, 2015
How the Same Sex Marriage Supreme Court Decision Changes FMLA
June 26th, 2015 marks a historic day in American history as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage country-wide. This makes America the 21st and most populated country in the world to legalize it. The history behind arriving at this decision was one filled with many legal obstacles and societal pushback.
The Path Toward Legalization
The civil marriage rights movement began in the 1970s and had its first major setback in 1971 when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against it citing same-sex couple’s incapability to procreate as the deciding factor. Procreating was deemed the essential element to the institution of marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court at the time agreed and refused to hear the appeal.
Same-sex marriage didn’t become a national topic of interest again until 1993 when the Supreme Court of Hawaii declared that it was unconstitutional to prohibit homosexuals from marrying within the state.
Following that ruling, other states went a step further and legalized same-sex marriage outright with Massachusetts being the first to do so. Fierce resistance from the religious-leaning states sent a lot of cases to their state supreme courts where same-sex couples won and the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear appeals which technically legalized gay marriage in those states.
A New Wave of Rights and Benefits
One of the major concerns same-sex marriage supporters had before the ruling were spousal benefits same-sex couples were being denied of in states that refused to legally recognize their union. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling eliminates any significant gaps in benefits, rights and privileges that same-sex couples were previously experiencing.
Same-sex married couples now have uninhibited access to:
· Social Security benefits
· Health insurance benefits
· Inheritances (in the event of their spouses death)
Effectively any benefit previously extended to a spouse in a heterosexual couple will now be extended to spouses in same-sex marriages.
How this Changes FMLA
The ruling not only deems any ban on same-sex marriage within the United States as unconstitutional but also requires all federal laws to recognized same-sex marriage. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is no exception.
Before the ruling, the government did already classify same-sex couples as eligible to take leaves to care for their spouses. However, this classification only applied to states where a same-sex couple’s marriage was legally recognized. Now, company operating within U.S. borders can deny a FMLA request from a LGBT employee to care for their spouse.
One should note that the dust has not yet settled in the aftermath of the ruling, and it is likely that some conservative and religious groups will fight for exemptions in an attempt to avoid legitimizing same-sex marriage. Whether or not they have the solid legal ground to stand on in these fights is up for debate.
LeaveSource – Ahead of the Curve!
At Qcera, we perceived these future changes and the impending complexity of defining marriage. That’s why, 15 years ago, we intentionally programmed our LeaveSource FMLA software to require no specific gender for an employee’s spouse. By simply adhering to our company values of longevity and ease-of-use, we ensured that our clients could seamlessly stay compliant with the constantly evolving FMLA law. LeaveSource technology is built to support your leave administration for today and the future.