Same Sex Marriage in North Carolina

Document created by 1050210 on Nov 17, 2014
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Published Date: 11/03/2014


George; Ports

By George Ports


On October 10, 2014, US District Court Judge Max Cogburn struck down North Carolina’s same sex marriage ban. This ruling lifted the ban that North Carolina voters had approved almost two years ago in a constitutional amendment. The ruling also followed a US Supreme Court decision not to hear an appeal of a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down Virginia’s ban on same sex marriage (Fourth Circuit has jurisdiction over NC).


This decision may impact employers in several ways. The definition of spouse is the main issue here as it affects employee benefits, taxes and leave entitlement under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Section 825.122(a) of the FMLA states:


“Spouse. Spouse means a husband or wife as defined or recognized under State law for purposes of marriage in the State where the employee resides, including common law marriage in States where it is recognized.”


Although common law marriage is not recognized in North Carolina, same sex marriage now is.


Bruce Clarke, CAI’s President and CEO, recently penned an article for his View from HR column published in the Raleigh News & Observer regarding same sex marriage. To read this article, go to


CAI recommends that employers contact their benefit providers/administrators to see if any modifications need to be made to plan documents. It is also recommended that employers contact their CPA regarding possible income tax issues resulting from the new definition of spouse in North Carolina.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding this issue, contact CAI's Advice & Resolution Team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.