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State OKs same-sex marriage, employers await DOMA ruling

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Minnesota has become the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage, following enactment of legislation that re­­quires employers to provide the same rights to same-sex couples as to opposite-sex couples in terms of health coverage and survivor benefits.

The legislation exempts religious organizations that want to preserve their freedom to recognize only those marriages that conform to their traditions. However, religious organizations that run secular operations separate from their religious or educational missions must recognize same-sex marriages.

The law changes all references to marriage in state statutes from “marriage” to “civil marriage.”

How does this affect federal pro­­grams such as the FMLA? That de­­pends—perhaps—on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a pending challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. A decision was expected by the end of June.

Minnesota’s medical leave law does not address leave to deal with spousal medical conditions, so the new state law has no effect on whether em­­ployers must offer leave for same-sex spouses.

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