RSS
Should gay couples be paid more than straight couples?
Cambridge, Mass., reimburses married gay employees for a tax their heterosexual counterparts don't have to pay — raising questions about political correctness
 
A couple waits outside a Provincetown, Mass. town hall to be wed in 2004: The city of Cambridge is taking unprecedented measures to ensure that married gay couples enjoy the same benefits as their straight coworkers.
A couple waits outside a Provincetown, Mass. town hall to be wed in 2004: The city of Cambridge is taking unprecedented measures to ensure that married gay couples enjoy the same benefits as their straight coworkers.
William B. Plowman/Getty Images

The city of Cambridge, Mass., has become the first in the country to pay workers a stipend to cover a federal tax on health benefits for their same-sex spouses. Twenty-two married gay school and city employees opted to add their spouses to their employer-provided health insurance, but the federal government considers the value of that health coverage taxable income because the couples are in homosexual relationships. The 22 individuals covered by Cambridge's new policy pay an extra $1,500 to $3,000 in taxes annually. Picking up the tab will cost the city $33,000 a year. "This is about equality," says Marjorie Decker, a Cambridge city councilor. Is it fair to put something extra in the paychecks of gay couples?

No, it is about political correctness: If this were about fairness, says Joe Carter at First Things, Cambridge would also be paying the extra tax for unmarried workers who pay taxes for their dependents covered under the city's health insurance benefits. It doesn't, of course, because "this isn’t really about equal pay for equal work. This was merely a publicity stunt by the city of Cambridge to signal what side of the politically-correct divide they are on."
"Extra pay for being gay married"

It is the taxation that is unfair: It's ridiculous to suggest that this is some kind of gay-rights favoritism, says Scott Rosenfeld at Passport. "It's about fairness." The Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against gay married couples by forcing a tax on them that their heterosexual counterparts don't have to pay. This only evens the scales by canceling out the surtax imposed to penalize them for being gay.
"Cambridge pays gay employees more to offset unfair health care tax"

This is a sign anti-gay discrimination is on the way out: Cambridge is doing what it has to do to end discrimination against same-sex couples within its city limits, says Bridgette P. LaVictoire in Lez Get Real. But the courts, too, are starting to "put homosexuality into a legally protected class with regards to civil rights." That, ultimately, means that the Defense of Marriage Act is doomed, so special policies like Cambridge's "will no longer be necessary in the near future."
"Cambridge, Mass., to reimburse married gay workers for wages lost due to unfair taxation"

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week