Has same-sex marriage changed employee benefits?

Not really, say HR pros

Pennsylvania officially began recognizing same-sex marriage on May 20, 2014, beating the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision by about 13 months.

While the rulings brought dramatic change to the legal landscape and the wedding business, they have not altered the approach taken by human resources departments and other HR professionals in Central Pennsylvania. Not much has changed in the last year, and it doesn’t look like there’s any reason to expect it to, according to some local HR pros.

A spouse is a spouse

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Like Karen A. Young says, “A spouse is a spouse is a spouse.”

The founder and president of HR Resolutions in Lower Paxton Township, Young says since same-sex marriage has been recognized in Pennsylvania, “It’s no different from a human resources standpoint.”

She stresses that her clients haven’t run into any legal issues over gay marriage, and that the only kind of “challenges” they’ve faced are minor:

“Employers sometimes forget things like, when you create your employee handbook, you shouldn’t discuss the gender of spouses or make assumptions,” Young says. “But that’s really the only kind of problem I’ve seen.”

Following the state’s lead

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Cathy Tama-Troutman, vice president of human resources at Susquehanna Township-based PSECU, says the credit union’s approach has been to “follow what state law says.”

“That has always guided our benefits program decisions,” and that includes same-sex marriage, she explains.

PSECU doesn’t cover domestic partner benefits, however.

Larry Portzline
Larry Portzline covers York County, nonprofits, workforce and education. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at larryp@cpbj.com.

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