For immediate release: July 5, 2013; revised March 19, 2014
From: George P. Lagos, Executive Director
To: NHRS Members and Retirees
Subject: U.S. Supreme Court’s finding that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional
CONCORD. N.H. - On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional. Since the State of New Hampshire is one of 12 states that recognize same-sex marriages, this ruling means that differential treatment of legally recognized same-sex couples is no longer permissible with respect to the administration of member and retiree benefits provided by the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS, the retirement system).
This change will require NHRS to review its plan document (RSA 100-A) and its current policies and procedures pertaining to spousal benefits. We anticipate that federal regulators and the IRS will be issuing guidance on this issue, given the significance of this ruling; of particular importance will be the determination as to whether or not the invalidation of DOMA will be retroactive, or if the ruling will be administered prospectively.
We are undertaking an extensive analysis of the court’s opinion, and are working closely with our outside fiduciary and legislative counsel, which will be providing guidance to us, as well as its other public pension plan clients. In order to be prepared to extend these benefits to eligible same-sex couples, we are reaching out to those members who believe they may be eligible for benefits that were previously unavailable due to DOMA. If you are an NHRS member or retiree currently in a same-sex marriage, please email NHRS.