Same-sex marriage, which is increasingly recognized across the country, continues to trickle through National Institutes of Health (NIH) policies. After the 2013 Supreme Court decision to strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, NIH first applied these principles to internal employees and extended employment benefits to same-sex spouses. Then, in April 2014, NIH announced that same-sex marriages would be considered for programs that apply “familial relationship terminology” to determine program participation eligibility.
Yesterday, NIH released a notice stating that “all NIH grant programs and research and development (R&D) contract programs now interpret the terms ‘spouse’ and ‘marriage’ to include same-sex spouses/marriages.”
Despite the generality of this statement, the focus and implementation are narrow. “Marital or spousal considerations are relevant … in the collection of financial conflicts of interest (COI) information,” the notice continues. It goes on to provide implementation examples illustrating how such relationships must be taken into account.
The notice states that it applies only to marriages that are recognized as legally valid in the jurisdiction, either foreign or domestic, where the couple was married and the state where they currently reside.