The Senate Tuesday said it has officially extended benefits to staffers in same-sex unions who have been wed in states where gay marriage is legal, saying staffers have until Aug. 26 to register their partners for health, life insurance and retirement benefits.
In new guidance sent to staffers, the Senate also said those who get married to same-sex partners in the future will be treated as any other married couple and will be able to add into the programs regardless of where they actually live in states where their unions are recognized.
“A legal same-sex marriage entered into following this ruling will be treated as a Qualified Life Event (QLE) in the same manner as opposite-sex marriages, regardless of an employee’s state of residency,” the Senate said in its new guidance. “Same-sex couples who are in a civil union or other forms of domestic partnership other than a legal marriage will remain ineligible for most federal benefits programs.”
The Senate moved quickly to issue the guidance, which comes just a few weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and that the federal government could not choose to ignore marriages approved by states.
That decision opened the door for the federal government to begin issuing immigration benefits to same-sex couples, and for federal employees to add their partners in as beneficiaries.