City in Massachusetts to Offset Monetary Burden of DOMA for Married Gay Employees

In what is believed to be a national first, the city of Cambridge in Massachusetts will as of July begin granting a quarterly stipend to city employees in same-sex marriages that are not able to access the same benefits as fellow married heterosexual workers due to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act which bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions and granting marriage rights and benefits.

From The Boston Globe:

Beginning in July, the city will begin paying quarterly stipends to city employees in a same-sex marriage who must pay federal taxes on the value of the health benefits their spouse receives from the city. 

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. 

The city, which in 2004 was the first in the nation to offer same-sex marriage licenses, currently provides health and or dental insurance benefits to the spouses of 22 city and school department employees who are married to a partner of the same sex, according to city Personnel Director Michael Gardner. The stipend will cost the city an estimated $33,000 per year once it is fully implemented.

While it is believed that Cambridge is the first city to offer this break, individual companies have been doing so for a while now including Google, Facebook and Barclays which have all moved to “gross up” pay for employees in same-sex marriages who are denied the federal tax breaks their married straight workmates enjoy.

The government’s failure to recognize same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships per the Defense of Marriage Act means that same-sex partners (and heterosexual partners in domestic partnerships) are excluded from around 1,138 benefits and responsibilities that heterosexual married couples enjoy.

In 2009, analysts for the New York Times calculated that not having access to the 1138 benefits that marriage grants heterosexual couples could cost same-sex married partners between $41,196 and a staggering $467,562 over a lifetime.


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to -Marlith-.


Heather G.
Heather G7 years ago

So Bruce, GREED is your motivation for being against gay-marriage??

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Bruce S.
Bruce S7 years ago

"Elizabeth K. says
My husband and I were together for 24 years, before we got married. When we got older, we wanted our social security to go to the surviving spouse.

Many of my friends (heterosexual couples) also got married for financial considerations (inheritance, etc.)"

I'm not sure what you're trying to say. With Social Security & Medicare even if the wife (the usual non-earner in a one income family) NEVER WORKED, she's entitled to benefits (which varies) based on her husband's earnings. The same with Medicare. These programs, which are rapidly going broke, never anticipated Adam & Steve (or Anne & Eve) being "married" and one of them never working and collecting benefits based on one or the other's earnings. That's just a fact, it's based on actuarial studies. Even the large influx of working women in the workforce was never anticipated when Social Security began, let alone the increased age people are living to.

You say "When we got older, we wanted our social security to go to the surviving spouse" It doesn't work like a bank account with a set amount where you have a right to will to a spouse, so I can only assume you mean the same as I explained below.

If only one person had earnings (traditionally the male), they would retire on Social Security with "their" full amount if they wait until 66. When the non-working spouse reaches at least 62 or older, they receive a "portion" of the primary spouse's amount, which varies depending on th

Andrea Morehouse
Andrea Peterson7 years ago

Great News!

Tami Kennedy
Tami Kennedy7 years ago

Great job Cambridge!

Christopher Fowler

Way to go Cambridge. Until DOMA and other anti-LGBT laws are overturned and abolished.

Until all citizens are treated equally, no citizen is being treated equally.

Elizabeth K.
Elizabeth K7 years ago

Bruce S.

My husband and I were together for 24 years, before we got married. When we got older, we wanted our social security to go to the surviving spouse.

Many of my friends (heterosexual couples) also got married for financial considerations (inheritance, etc.)

So blows your theory out of the water.

vicki fellner
Victoria Fellner7 years ago


Roxane Connor
Roxane Connor7 years ago

Overturn DOMA NOW!

Wayne M.
Wayne M7 years ago

This whole situation shows just why all marriage should be treated as marriage with the same rights and privileges for every married couple. Not only does this eliminated the need for special status for domestic partnerships and civil unions, it also ensures no one needs special treatment or gets special rights.

Legislators across the United States need to pass bills that protects civil marriage as "between two persons to the exclusion of all others" and protects equality rights for all who are legally married.