The question remains to be seen what the full impact of New York’s recent passage of the Marriage Equality Act will be on employers. 

The law, which Lady Gaga heavily campaigned for and which drew bi-partisan support, will have at least some immediate impact on New York employers. 

New York’s law, unlike some other states who have addressed the issue of gay marriage, did not sidestep the issue and create civil unions.  Instead, New York’s law amends any existing statute that references marriage to be gender neutral and to not define marriage as being solely between a man and a woman.  As such, and as we previously posted, employers may need to review policies to insure that same-sex couples are included in the definitions of protected classes.  

Another issue is what happens with benefit plans that provide coverage for "spouses."  Our colleague, Keith McMurdy, has also posted an informative blog on the effect on employers’ benefit plans. 

Although the law generally applies to all employers, benevolent organizations and religious corporations formed under the Education Law or the Religious Corporations Law have some protection.   These entities will not be required to make accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges required under the law.