Monday, July 11, 2011


Kenneth M. O’Brien
Now that Massachusetts has sanctioned same sex marriage a disparity exists between the ways that gay couples are treated by the Federal tax system.

As a result of the 1996 Federal Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Federal government cannot recognize the legality of the marriage of same sex couples, even if it is legal in the state in question.

Thus, the Federal Government taxes the health benefits of gay couples but not those of straight couples.

The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts has looked at the issue and concluded that such treatment costs gay couples from $1,500 to $3,000 per year in additional Federal taxes not imposed upon their straight counterparts.

As a result, the Cambridge City Council has decided to pay city employees in such a marital relationship a stipend to offset the disparity.

Cambridge is believed to be the first city in the nation to undertake such an action.

The policy is not unknown in the private sector. Both Google and Facebook offer employees in similar circumstances such consideration.

It is estimated that under current circumstances this new policy will cost the city about $33,000 per year.

That could potentially expand if the number of eligible city employees increases.

Also to be considered is the fact that this is just one element of the disparity in the treatment of gay couples versus heterosexual couples under DOMA. Other benefits accorded to straight couples but not homosexual unions include Social Security survivors’ benefits, immigration rights, family leave and the ability to file joint tax returns.


  1. Just because two people are of the same gender shouldn't really make any difference when it comes to all of the things you discussed. I personally think that gay people have the same type of monogamous relationship as a heterosexual couple can have. I think they should be entitled to all of the same benefits as a heterosexual couple have. No matter what anyone says people are still people.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. At last official count there were 1138 Federal benefits denied to same-sex couples. As someone who has had this disparity be a reality in my life, despite being legally married for the last 7 years and in the same relationship for the last 22 years, I commend Cambridge for trying to balance things out. After losing thousands in benefits, I've also had to pay thousands in legal fees to try to protect my family should anything ever happen to me. In any case, no law or discriminatory policy will ever tell me that my family is less loving and less worthy than a heterosexual family. Will never happen.


All comments subject to moderation. All commenters must use their own name or a screen name. No comments labelled as "Anonymous" will be published. To use your name or a screen name select "Name/URL" from the drop down menu. Insert you name in the "Name" space and leave the "URL" space blank.