The federal government is cracking down on cities around the country when considering retirement benefits, mandating that local governments must consider same-sex couples the same as married couples despite the fact that Georgia doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. The City of Marietta says they are in the process of reworking the definition of ‘spouse’ in order to comply with new regulations in light of the Supreme Court decision, United States v. Windsor. The ruling essentially says that if a couple was married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, retirement benefits must be offered, regardless of the state of employment. Previously, if an employee was setting aside money for retirement from a city salary, they were unable to leave the allocated money to a same-sex partner should they pass. Mayor Tumlin of Marietta says the city is not complying by choice, but simply as a ‘matter of legalese’ and revised benefits apply strictly to retirement- not any other category of benefits.
This comes weeks after the City of Smyrna, along with a few others around the state, voluntarily considered offering employee benefits to same-sex couples, though most have yet to issue a final decision.
Wind up the Liberty Drum…It will be interesting to see whether or not municipalities and counties eventually challenge the ruling -or the states do so on their behalf asserting sovereignty- or if this becomes the norm.