Last summer, on June 26, same-sex marriage became legal. This came two years after the Defense of Marriage Act, which said that marriage could only be between men and women, was declared unconstitutional. These rulings created significant changes for couples who had wanted to marry and previously not been allowed to do so.
However, the changes also carried some unforeseen ramifications for unmarried couples. Many companies and employers are starting to do away with benefits that were once given to domestic partners.
Technically, benefits aimed at domestic partners were not just for same-sex couples. Opposite-sex couples who had decided not to marry for whatever reason could also use them. However, since same-sex marriage was illegal, the benefits were often used for those couples, who had no way to get the benefits being given to married couples.
Now that they can get married, though, companies are basically saying that they must marry in order to make use of the benefits, slashing the domestic-partner benefits and simply offering benefits to those who have tied the knot. This means that same-sex couples who could have been using these benefits for years could lose them unless they decide to take that next step.
In some ways, companies are looking at this as a way to promote equality and avoid being sued for discrimination. Since same-sex marriage is now legal, these couples do have options to get the benefits that they want. Still, it’s important for unmarried couples in Arizona to know how these policies are changing and what steps they need to take to secure their benefits going forward.
Source: Time, “How Gay Marriage and Wedding Culture Threaten Other Couples,” Sara Warner, Feb. 11, 2016