August 20, 2013
OGE Issues Legal Advisory on the Effect of United States v. Windsor on the Executive Branch Ethics Programs
The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has issued a Legal Advisory providing guidance on the effect of United States v. Windsor on the federal ethics provisions that use the terms “spouse,” “marriage,” and “relative.” For more information, please see Legal Advisory LA-13-10, dated August 19, 2013, http://www.oge.gov/OGE-Advisories/Legal-Advisories/LA-13-10--Effect-of-the-Supreme-Court-s-Decision-in-United-States-v--Windsor-on-the-Executive-Branch-Ethics-Program/
In addition, OGE has provided the following suggested language approved by the Department of Justice that agency ethics officials may use to proactively notify all agency employees of these new requirements:
“On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. As a result of this decision, federal ethics rules will now apply to employees in same-sex marriages in the same way that they apply to all married employees.
The ethics rules affect married employees in a number of ways. If you are required to file a public or confidential financial disclosure report, you must include your spouse’s finances on your next report. In addition, your spouse’s financial interests are treated as if they were your own under the conflict of interest laws. For example, you may not work on any assignments that will affect your spouse’s financial interests.
Although the criminal conflict of interest statutes and the financial disclosure reporting requirements do not apply in the same manner to employees in domestic partnerships or civil unions, employees in domestic partnerships or civil unions might still be disqualified from working on assignments affecting their partners or members of their households.
If you have any questions about the ethics rules that apply to married employees, please contact your agency’s ethics office.”