NSBA Issues Guide on What High Court Same-Sex Marriage Decision Means for School Districts

July 30, 2015

Alexandria, Va. (July 30, 2015) – In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the National School Boards Association (NSBA), in partnership with key education groups, released a newly updated guide to discuss the legal impact of the decision on local school board policies. Since the Court decided that the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires a state to recognize and license a marriage between two people of the same-sex, the intent of the guide is to answer questions that school districts and school personnel may have in their efforts to understand the decision and comply with its provisions.

“As the nation’s largest collective employer with over 6.9 million employees, the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges is a landmark decision that will impact school district employment policies and practices,” stated Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director. “Through our legal advocacy experts and case analysis, NSBA offers state-of-the-art resources to help guide school districts on appropriate implementation of the law.”

Developed in partnership with the National Education Association (NEA) and the School Superintendents Association (AASA), the guide is the latest resource released to help school districts respond to the changing legal environment on same-sex marriage. It covers a variety of issues that school leaders may encounter related to the court decision’s impact on employee benefits, such as health insurance, retirement benefits, personal leave, collective bargaining agreements, and other areas of employer-employee relations.

“School superintendents are aware of their responsibility to ensure that employee policies and benefits apply equally to all employees, including individuals in same-sex marriages,” said Daniel A. Domenech, AASA Executive Director. “Identifying potential questions that may arise from school districts’ efforts to comply with the provisions, and offering answers to these questions is a timely and important service that our organizations needed to provide.”

In addition, the guide addresses some of the challenges school districts will face in jurisdictions that may question the decision’s applicability to them. “Some state or local officials may attempt to resist the Supreme Court’s decision, but the Obergefell decision is the law of the land. If school districts fail to extend equal protection to employees on the basis of same-sex marriage, they may face legal liability,” the guide notes.

"NEA is pleased to partner with the National School Board Association to provide guidance and resources on this important issue," said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President. "On behalf of our members—and the students they serve—we applaud the court's historic decision, and we are grateful that all of our educators, regardless of whom they are married to, will be assured personal and economic well-being."

Same-Sex Marriage: What the Obergefell decision means for school districts” is available for viewing or download.


The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. Learn more at



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