The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts
has agreed to help pay a federal tax penalty for married gay and lesbian
couples, the AP reported.
Because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage
Act (DOMA), which bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal
marriages of gay couples, the federal government taxes the health
benefits of gay couples but not straight couples.
The Cambridge city council last month
agreed to a plan to provide a quarterly stipend to gay city or school
employees who put a spouse on their health insurance.
The city is believed to be the first
municipality to offer such compensation.
“This is about equality,” Marjorie
Decker, a Cambridge city councilor, told the news wire service.
“This is a city that models what equality really means.”
The city says it has about two dozen
workers who quality for the roughly $33,000 stipend.
Mayor David Maher is the city's third
consecutive openly gay mayor.
The state of Massachusetts last year
challenged the constitutionality of DOMA in federal court and won.
The case was among several that prompted the Obama administration to
announce it would no longer defend the law in court. However, the
Republican-controlled House has agreed to take on the task and has
appealed the decision.
Several large corporations, including
Google and Facebook, also offer a similar benefit.
Conservative outlet Fox News reported
the story with the headline: Cambridge, MA set to Pay Gay
Employees More Than Straight.