One of the questions arising from the Supreme Court's finding of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional is whether legally married couples living in states where their marriage was not recognized would be eligible for federal benefits.
President Obama said that he hoped that the government would use "place of ceremony" rather than "place of residence" in determining residency, and indeed, the first green card was issued to a legally married couple in Florida, where their marriage was not recognized. Definitely a good sign.
Government Executive has a piece today that suggests that the "place of ceremony" will be applied to all federal benefits. In their piece, Same-Sex Spouses Eligible for Benefits Regardless of Residency, they cite new federal guidance from the Office of Personel Management regarding health benefits that says that "Same-sex spouses of legally married feds and retirees are eligible for health and retirement benefits regardless of which state they live in."
The guidance reads:
"Coverage will be available to a legally married same-sex spouse of a Federal employee or annuitant, regardless of his or her state of residency. This decision does not extend coverage to registered domestic partners or those employees or annuitants in civil unions."
Because we already knew separate was not equal.
This is exceptionally good news for people like us who (until we can find a house in Maryland to buy) live in states like Virginia, which does not recognize our marriage.
The other part of the guidance I like: "OPM sent letters last week to insurance carriers about extending health, dental and vision coverage to same-sex spouses and children of feds and annuitants, underscoring the need for equity. “Carriers will be cautioned against imposing any new rules in response to the Supreme Court’s decision that could be seen as having either the purpose or effect of creating barriers to enrollment for legally married same-sex couples,” stated the July 3 benefits administration letter from OPM’s John O’Brien, director of healthcare and insurance."
You can read the entire Government Executive piece here.
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