Target: U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and the Department of Labor
Goal: Applaud the Secretary of Labor and the Federal Department of Labor for announcing that retirement plans should recognize gay marriage in all fifty states
The Department of Labor recently announced that all legally performed marriages of gay couples should be recognized by employers when considering retirement plans or any other provision that is regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. This guidance by the Department of Labor will mean that all legally married same-sex couples in a state that recognizes their union have the ability to claim retirement benefits in all fifty states. This decision by the Department of Labor comes during a time period where progress has been made in obtaining equal rights for the gay community in a country where they have long been considered second-class citizens.
Under the Department of Labor’s guidance, the term “marriage” will include legally recognized same-sex marriages under state law in all fifty states. This decision is consistent with the Windsor decision, a federal case in which the plaintiff laid claim to tax benefits under a statute that used the term “spouse.” The terms “marriage” and “spouse” do not include those involved in formal relationships recognized by a state that is not under law considered or denominated marriage. Therefore, although married same-sex couples can receive benefits, those benefits will not be given to domestic partnerships or civil unions.
This provision poses problems for states such as New Jersey. State officials there are currently defending a civil unions law that states that civil unions for gay couples should be treated as equal to marriages. Furthermore, they reprehend the federal government for discriminating against civil unions despite the fact that the term civil union was invented for the objective of not using the term “marriage.” Rather than the federal government discriminating against the gay community, it is New Jersey that continues to discriminate against the gay community by forcing gay couples into a separate and inferior category to marriage. Please sign this petition to commend the Department of Labor for its guidance that employers must recognize same-sex marriage in any state when creating retirement plans.
Dear U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and the Department of Labor,
We commend you for your guidance that employers in all fifty states should recognize legally performed gay marriage when considering retirement plans. Legally married same-sex couples will be able to claim retirement benefits in all fifty states. This represents some progress for the gay community at the federal level and must be commended.
Unfortunately, the term “marriage” and “spouse” will not be extended to domestic partnerships or civil unions. Similar to federal employment benefits, retirement benefits will not be extended to those involved in domestic partnerships and civil unions. Nonetheless, we applaud you for making employers in all fifty states recognize same-sex marriages when crafting retirement plans.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dave Schumaker via Flickr