10 July 2011
by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
Chalk this up to another reason to bring down the Defense of Marriage Act and to clearly state that the reason why the Right want to keep DOMA in place is to punish a minority group for whom sexual attraction to people of the same sex is rooted in a very physical reality. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, some twenty-two school and city workers are taxed well beyond that which their colleagues are because they are lesbian or gay and they are married. What is more, they have put their spouses on their employer-provided health insurance, but, because of DOMA, that means that their health insurance coverage is considered taxable income by the Federal government.
Those twenty-two employees of Cambridge, Mass, pay an additional $1500 to $3000 per year in taxes, but the city government wants to rectify that by establishing a stipend that will attempt to defray those costs for their workers. It is estimated that the cost of doing this will be about $33,000 per year.
Cambridge city councilor Marjorie Decker stated “This is about equality. This is a city that models what equality really means.” The push began in January to put an end to what council members felt was an unfair and discriminatory tax. Leland Cheung, another councilor for the city, said “This is ultimately a fairness issue. Two people who do the exact same job should be paid exactly the same for what they are doing at work.” Cheung and E. Denise Simmons, another councilor, pushed the measure. Simmons is openly gay.
Of course, Kris Mineau, the president of the anti-marriage group Massachusetts Family Institute, stated “It’s a travesty of using taxpayer monies to circumvent a national policy.” The real travesty is that Mineau and others seek to punish lesbians and gays for being biologically different than they are.
Because homosexuality has a biological root to it, and because religion is a lifestyle choice, the courts are starting to take measures that put homosexuality into a legally protected class with regards to civil rights. Mary Bowe-Shulman of Acton, Mass, who is one of the plaintiffs challenging DOMA, said “I think that’s a wonderful thing for [Cambridge] to make up for that.” Bowe-Shulman loses $7,080 a year to federal taxes because of this law. She and her wife of six years have two children and could really use the money. She also pointed out the psychological problems of being treated differently saying “It just makes me feel like my family is being treated differently than everyone else’s.”
Hopefully, the push to end DOMA will mean that these laws will no longer be necessary in the near future.