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City of Seattle

December 5, 6:00 PM click here to comment > 3

Working for equal treatment under the law for all our employees

For the past several months, my office worked with the City Council on a proposal to provide a partial tax offset to City employees in same-sex marriages to help mitigate the discriminatory impact of the Internal Revenue Code because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The value of City-provided health coverage of the spouses in opposite-sex marriages is not subject to federal income tax and payroll taxes; however, because of DOMA, the value of health coverage of spouses in same-sex marriages is subject to these taxes. The City Council and I had wanted to mitigate at least part of the impact of DOMA by providing to employees in same-sex marriages a partial tax offset to cover some of the extra taxes they pay.

We sought legal advice and in an opinion dated October 11, 2012, the City Attorney’s Office stated, “This office does not see any significant legal obstacles to the adoption of this practice, particularly if limited to married same sex partners.” Based on this advice, we formed an interdepartmental team, including staff from City Personnel, the City Attorney’s Office, City Council, and the Mayor’s Office, to develop a proposal and an implementation plan. My office and the Council set aside funds in the 2013 adopted budget to cover the cost of providing the partial tax offset.

But late yesterday we were informed by the City Attorney’s Office that the proposal they had previously approved would not survive a legal challenge based upon RCW 26.60.015. That statute prevents the City from providing benefits to married couples that are not provided to state registered domestic partners.

I was disappointed that we could not proceed with the plan we had been working on with City Council. These issues matter. The recent vote to uphold marriage equality, passed with an overwhelming majority in Seattle, indicates our voters expect us to address inequality.

The City does not believe that DOMA and the effect it has on federal benefits is fair. In fact, we have joined the challenge to the constitutionality of DOMA. That legal challenge is in the federal court system and potentially up for Supreme Court consideration.

I want to assure you that we will continue working so that all of our residents receive equal treatment under the law.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn

Comments

Comment from Tom Barnacles
Time December 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm

This is without a question nothing more than mor of McGinn’s mayorial mismanagement malarkey. I am absolutely opposed to it for two reasons:
(1) The mayor’s maneuver is transparent – this is his gimmick to get the homosexual community to vote for him next year because there aren’t enought two-wheelers to offset the angry four-wheelers in Seattle.
(2) It sounds like a noble crusade, but not with my tax dollars. Why should the city gives a freebie tax stipend to homosexual couples because Mr McGinn is opposed to a federal tax law? I am being subject to an unfair and despicable tax increase for my medical benefits by the Obama regime just because of my retirement history in uniform. If the city wants to give away free money to any exclusively singled-out group of people because of who they are, then fine, but I want a piece of that pie because of the federal prejudice I will be facing simply because I once wore a uniform in service to this country. Then again, if the Mayor and his Munchkins want, they can just send me a rebate to offset my ballooning taxes to cover this bag of baloney and bull.

Comment from Pamela Alspaugh
Time December 7, 2012 at 8:59 am

I certainly support equal treatment for all employees who are married, no matter the sex of their partner. However, if McGinn is concerned with equal benefits for all employees, he should investigate and address the inequities of the citys health care benefits and costs as they apply to single people with no children. Currently, a single employee with no children pays they same (0-$48) for insurance as a single person with 10 children while a married employee only pays an additional $32-$98 per month. This may not matter as long as we are employed and receiveing health care, but when a single person with no children leaves employment, their high cost of COBRA payments makes COBRA out of reach. If the city had a system where premiums were based on the number of persons covered by the insurance, COBRA premiums for single people with no children would likely be much more reasonable.

Pingback from Same love » No measure of health
Time December 10, 2012 at 11:21 am

[…] finished. Federal law still not only doesn’t recognise these couples as really married, but actively prohibits us from treating their marriages as real. And at least as important, outside of cosy little bubbles like Seattle there is still the […]