Teacher Retirement System moves to comply with marriage ruling | Arkansas Blog

Friday, June 26, 2015

Teacher Retirement System moves to comply with marriage ruling

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 1:15 PM

The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, one of the defendants in civil rights actions challenging the Arkansas ban on same-sex marriage, has moved today to change policy to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

George Hopkins, the system director, sent this memo today:

Today the U.S. Supreme Court held that all states must allow same sex marriages and that all states must recognize same sex marriages performed in other states. I have read the opinion for any impact it has on ATRS and ATRS processes.. The decision is now effective law. The decision does impact ATRS and ATRS processes. These quotes are from the opinion:

The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.

It follows that the Court also must hold—and it now does hold—that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.

ATRS will recognize all marriages performed in all state without regard to the sex of the spouses. This means that all options and rights afforded to heterosexual married couples historically will now be afforded to all married couples. There must be a marriage and not something less like a civil union or civil registry that some may have. A marriage license like ATRS uses in standard processes is required. If you know of any ATRS member that was denied the ability to make any retirement election due to a same sex marriage issue, please send me an email about the issue. From this point forward, ATRS will process all member elections using all marriage licenses. If you have any questions, please let me know. 

Hopkins also answered this question from a staff member: "I will assume this will only pertain to new retirees? Will we tell members already retired, they will not be eligible?"

This applies to all retirees and all are eligible. For instance if a current retiree marries, then the retiree can elect to cover the new spouse during the time allowed by the ATRS law and rules. A trickier question is if ATRS ever refused to allow a member to provide an option benefit to a same sex spouse. I am not aware of any in that group. All retirees from last July 1st still have through Tuesday to change options, regardless of marriage type. 

Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, the publicly funded ATRS was one of many public agencies prohibited from extending the privileges of marriage to same-sex couples, even those legally married elsewhere, by the state Constitutional amendment adopted in 2004.

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