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April 21, 2016

Changes to Same Sex Domestic Partner (SSDP) Benefits Coverage Policy

In light of the June 26, 2015 ruling of the United States Supreme Court giving same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry in all states, Emory University has made the decision to alter the policy addressing benefits to same-sex domestic partners (SSDPs) and their dependents. This decision comes as the result of many months of research, benchmarking with other universities, and discussions with Emory’s leadership and faculty, as well as members of the LGBTQ community.

When Emory initially made the decision to offer SSDP benefits in 1996, it was in response to the fact that there were very few options for same-sex partners to gain access to benefits. Same-sex domestic partners did not have the option of marriage as a means to qualify as a spouse for participation in the Emory benefits.  Now, with the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples, as well as coverage options made available through the Affordable Care Act, there is a much wider range of opportunities for healthcare coverage, and the practical need for a special accommodation no longer seems necessary.

Further, this change is an effort to be fair and equitable in administering our benefits programs, ensuring that the requirement to access the benefits offered to same-sex couples is consistent with those required of opposite-sex couples.

To allow adequate time for those impacted to plan and prepare for this change, Emory will continue to offer unmarried same-sex domestic partners of employees (and their dependents) access to Emory’s benefit programs through December 31, 2017 if they have a covered SSDP on the plan as of December 31, 2016. Effective January 1, 2018, covered SSDPs must be legally married in order to continue their Emory benefits programs (a marriage certificate will be required, as is required for opposite-sex couples). Effective January 1, 2017, no new unmarried SSDPs can be added to the Emory benefits plan by current employees; newly hired employees must provide proof of marriage to enroll their spouses after this date.

If you have any questions, please contact the Benefits Department at or 404-727-7613.