Even though same-sex marriage is legal in the state of California, many people still have questions and concerns over their eligibility for employment benefits once only extended to opposite-sex couples. An important federal ruling on same-sex marriage applied significant amendments to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, helping to ensure that same-sex married couples are entitled to ERISA protections.
In a news release published by the United States Department of Labor in the fall of 2013, it was announced that title I of ERISA would include legally married same-sex couples. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling prompted the change in interpretation of ERISA, which was altered to identify same-sex married couples as spouses under federal guidelines. Under the new application of title I of ERISA, a same-sex marriage would be considered valid as long as the couple in question married in a foreign jurisdiction or US state where same-sex marriage is legal.