The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) provided that, when used in a Federal law, the term “marriage” would mean only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and that the term “spouse” referred only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. Because of DOMA, the Federal government has been prohibited from recognizing the legal marriages of same-sex couples for purposes of numerous Federal benefits programs.
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional. There are numerous benefits that are affected by the Supreme Court’s decision, and it is impossible for us to answer today every question that may arise regarding today’s ruling. Nevertheless, I want to assure you that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is committed to implementing the Court’s ruling promptly, and will work with the Department of Justice and other agencies to review the various Federal benefits policies and procedures that will be affected by the decision.
OPM will be issuing additional information covering a broader range of issues in the coming days. In the meantime, questions regarding the effect of the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision on Federal employee and annuitant benefits should be directed to OPM through your agency Chief Human Capital Officer.
We appreciate your cooperation in our effort to implement the Supreme Court’s decision, and provide greater equality to Federal employees and annuitants regardless of their sexual orientation.
cc: Chief Human Capital Officers