By: Shannon Ralph
In a bold move that may very well be the first of its kind in the country, the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts will soon begin making payments to same-sex married couples to fund the cost of what city officials have labeled a discriminatory federal tax. Beginning in July, the city will begin paying quarterly stipends to city employees in a same-sex marriage. As it stands, these employees are required to pay federal taxes on the value of the health benefits their spouse receives from the city. These stipends are intended help defray that cost to employees.
Federal law requires employers to calculate the value of the benefits received by a same-sex spouse as taxable income to the employee, but health benefits for opposite sex spouses of employees are not taxable.
I do not live in Massachusetts, but I am currently covered under my partner’s health insurance. We are lucky enough that her private company offers domestic partner benefits. However, unlike her married coworkers, my partner pays taxes on the value of my health insurance. This is one of many ways in which a lack of federal recognition for gay relationships unfairly impacts LGBT couples. It isn’t right. And it isn’t fair. I applaud the city of Cambridge. I hope they will be the first in a long line of cities whose governing officials take a stand for LGBT citizens.
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