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Does Minnesota's same-sex marriage law grant rights to employees?

Same-sex marriages were legalized in Minnesota on August 1, 2013. This change conferred many rights to same-sex couples, as well as equal rights under employment law. However, some matters can get complicated because of cross border issues which occur when a neighboring state with different marriage laws is involved.

According to Minnesota law, same-sex couples should get all benefits that have been given to heterosexual couples. If any employer does not give such benefits equally to all couples recognized under the law, the employer can be held liable for discriminatory practices that are prohibited under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Only certain religious institutions are exempt from this rule.

Just like the U.S. Office of Personnel & Management, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Internal Revenue Service, Minnesota uses the "place of celebration" rule to decide on cross border issues. Therefore, a company that is based in another state, which prohibits same sex marriage, has to abide by Minnesota laws when working in Minnesota, and a Minnesota employee employed in another state will have to follow the laws of that state.

So, during a divorce, a same-sex couple can have the same rights as any other couple in relation to employment benefits and other legal issues. Any property and assets acquired during the marriage will be divided between the couple, and alimony and child support will be conferred based on the income of the spouses. Also, any prenuptial agreement between the spouses is recognized under the law. The couple should be certain of their rights in order to get benefits under Minnesota law.

Source: MN.gov, "MDHR Guidance for Employers and Employees on Minnesota's Same-Sex Marriage Law," accessed on Sep. 9, 2014

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