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Respect for Marriage Act – What It Means for the MS Community

December 9, 2022

Yesterday marked the passage of the historic Respect for Marriage Act, which provides federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages under the law, ensuring that people in the LGBTQ+ community and those in interracial marriages can now have additional certainty that their marriages will not be invalidated by judicial decisions.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society applauds the bipartisan legislators who helped pass this landmark legislation that protects and honors the fundamental human right of marriage, regardless of sexual orientation or race.  As an organization that is committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in everything we do—including equitable access to MS healthcare— we celebrate this legislation, its champions and those the law will benefit.

“We are an organization for every person with MS and the MS movement is stronger when every person has access to what they need, when they need it,” says Cyndi Zagieboylo, National MS Society President & CEO. "Marriage provides important support, love and comfort for many people affected by MS, as well as potentially being the source of healthcare coverage. Every family deserves to be respected and celebrated.”

Here's what this important legislation means for the MS community:

  • The Respect for Marriage Act guarantees the federal rights, benefits and obligations of same-sex and interracial marriages by making them part of federal law. A couple will be considered married if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.
  • Extending spousal benefits and protections under federal law means that for many types of employer-provided health plans, same-sex spouses must be allowed to have spousal benefit coverage by employers. This is significant because employer-sponsored health coverage is a major source of health insurance for many people affected by MS.
  • Federal recognition of LGBTQ+ marriages also provides a range of additional protections for people with MS and their spouses—such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections and involvement in healthcare decision-making.
If you have specific questions or concerns about how this legislation impacts your health insurance coverage, MS Navigators are here to help.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, is the global leader of a growing movement dedicated to creating a world free of MS. The Society funds cutting-edge research for a cure, drives change through advocacy and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved:, Facebook, X, formerly known as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.


© 2024 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.