The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional is likely to have one particularly positive side effect for employers: an influx of diverse talent in the workforce in states that recognize same-sex marriage.
Before the Court’s decision, DOMA ensured that the benefits accompanying a lawful same-sex marriage were limited. In Minnesota, for instance, there are roughly 500 state rights that come with marriage, ranging from hospital visitation benefits to the ability to get a joint fishing license (an issue taken seriously by many Minnesotans). But under DOMA, same-sex spouses would be denied access to over 1,100 federal rights that come with marriage.
In essence, state recognition of same-sex marriage covers only one-third of the pie. To get the whole pie, couples need federal rights. For many same-sex couples, the ability to secure state rights was attractive, but too limited to incent them to relocate. Now, with Section 3 eradicated, the impact of legal marriage for same-sex couples is a game-changer. The right to file joint federal taxes alone can save some couples thousands of dollars, social security benefits will be available to same-sex spouses, and, as we learned from this particular Supreme Court case (United States v. Windsor), same-sex spouses will no longer be taxed on the inheritance of their spouses’ estates. With such significant benefits now available to same-sex couples, the states that recognize same-sex marriage have become incredibly attractive to the GLBT workforce.
Some states may benefit more than others. For instance, the only Midwestern states that currently recognize same-sex marriage are Iowa and Minnesota. For those seeking big city life in the Midwest, Minneapolis just became a key destination. With Fortune 500 companies and a vibrant community, the Twin Cities may see a notable increase in successful recruiting of GLBT candidates.
Companies in other states will benefit as well. Employers will now be able to attract an international pool of workers, as the demise of Section 3 means that employees will be able to bring their same-sex spouses with them if they accept a job in the United States. In a war for global talent, that might be a decided advantage for U.S. employers.