Delaware Recognizes Civil Unions: The Impact on Employment, Insurance and Contracting in the First State
On May 11, 2011, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed into law the Civil Union and Equality Act of 2011 (the Act), which becomes effective January 1, 2012. The Act sets forth requirements and procedures for same-sex couples to join in a civil union and affords parties to a civil union rights similar to those enjoyed by married couples. Companies contracting with or employing persons in Delaware should review and update their applications, handbooks, policies and procedures, contracts, and training materials to assure compliance with the Act.
The Act provides that a party to a civil union shall be included in any definition or use of the terms “dependent,” “family,” “husband and wife,” “immediate family,” “next of kin,” “spouse,” “stepparent,” “tenants by the entirety,” and other terms, whether or not gender-specific, that denote a spousal relationship or a person in a spousal relationship. These broadened definitions likely will require revision of company documents and policies to recognize the inclusion of parties in a civil union in the application of these terms. Additionally, personnel should be trained on the benefits now afforded to parties in civil unions under Delaware law.
Should you have any questions about the Act or its implications for your business, please contact one of the attorneys at White and Williams LLP.