City of Cambridge Pays Stipends to Married Same-sex Spouses to Offset Unfair Tax

Yesterday, it was reported that the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts will be giving stipends to public employees with same-sex spouses to offset the cost of a federal tax on health benefits for their same-sex spouses. Once this new policy takes affect, Cambridge will become the first municipality in the country to attempt to defray this additional, unjust cost saddled on same-sex couples because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

For public employees across the country, a choice is given to add your spouse on your employer-provided health insurance. However, for public employees with same-sex spouses, an additional federal tax is taken out of their paycheck, because the federal government views health insurance coverage provided by a same-sex spouse’s employer to be taxable income. This means that public employees with a same-sex spouse across the country are taxed more than other public employees for giving health coverage to their spouse simply because their spouse is of the same gender.

This additional tax is one of the many results of the DOMA. Married gay and lesbian couples are already denied federal protections offered to other married couples, such as immigration rights, Social Security survivor’s benefits, and the ability to file joint tax returns. But this additional tax on married same-sex couples adds another sting to the injustice that is the Defense of Marriage Act.

However, the city of Cambridge has decided that it can no longer stand by and allow this injustice to continue. The city council decided to give stipends to city and school employees with same-sex spouses to cancel out the additional tax.

“This is ultimately a fairness issue,” says Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung, one of the two city councilors who pushed this proposal. “Two people who do the exact same job should be paid the same for what they are doing.”

Freedom to Marry applauds this decision by the city of Cambridge and hopes that other cities will soon follow their example as the fate of DOMA is still being determined in our nation’s halls of justice.

To contact your member of Congress and tell them why you support the repeal of DOMA, click here.