Google recently decided to increase the pay of their homosexual employees to cover a tax on health benefits given to domestic partners. What is this tax? According to the NY Times:
Under federal law, employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners are counted as taxable income, if the partner is not considered a dependent. The tax owed is based on the value of the partner’s coverage paid by the employer.
In other words, paying for a domestic partner’s healthcare is not treated the same as paying for your own healthcare. It is the same as paying for a random stranger’s healthcare. In other words this is not a tax.
But Google thinks it is. Why? Because it’s vogue to frame gay rights issues in terms of infractions of civil rights.
So what are the problems with this?
The following is an exscript of a conversation I had on Facebook regarding this issue. One caveat I need to point out is that when I wrote the following I was under the impression that Google’s new policy was to purchase the healthcare coverage for their homosexual employees’ partners as opposed to simply providing extra pay. Even so, the discrepancy in pay still makes valid much of what I argue below.
A friend starts off:
very progressive, I’d support it if I were in their company
Even if that means you make less just because you are married (for real, not a pretend same-sex civil contract)?
Even if I weren’t opposed to this for ideological reasons, I would still be opposed to it for financial reasons.
We all make less to pay for the subsidized health of all employees, and I don;t see their union as any less valid than my own.
No, this is above and beyond what the insurance company’s costs. This is Google 1.) deciding public policy and 2.) imposing that public policy on it’s own workers
I hope someone actually sues them over this because I can’t see how this wouldn’t be an unfair practice.
And its not a question of which union is “more valid”. It is a question of whether a homosexual union can ever constitute a valid marriage in the first place.
Friend #2 joins in:
You don’t actually make less for being married. You make less for being in a domestic partnership because of increased healthcare costs, and this removes that inequality.
Yes, there is certainly a marriage penalty, and things like this don’t help that societally destructive imbalance any.
Marriage penalty? Actually, people who are married pay LESS for healthcare, not more. I’m not sure how that counts as a penalty. And I still don’t understand why removing that inequality (and not by reducing pay or otherwise harming the married people in question, by the way) is in any way unfair. It seems like a case of marriage going from separate and special rights to equal rights, and that seems right to me.
I don’t think you understand. There IS no “healthcare inequality” here. Well, not until Google instituted their company policy that is.
Let me put it this way. Say I start at Google making $50,000/y as a married man. For whatever reason I decide to divorce my wife and find a gay lover and call it “marriage”. Now I am entitled to make $50,000 + whatever is needed to cover someone who is not my spouse and has no legal obligation or attachment to me.
This actually incurs more than just the medical cost of the “spouse”. Additional costs are incurred for any “children”. And insurance premiums skyrocket accordingly (because such coverage of non legally bound individuals carries with it a certain amount of legal liability in itself) which has a negative effect across the board for everyone.
So actually the married man at Google is not only getting stiffed the additional matching contribution (which, believe it or not, is real money as it counts towards your gross income) and being asked to tacitly endorse am immoral (yes, I realize that is debatable among some) risky lifestyle (which is a determination made by both the CDC and healthcare companies themselves) but is also being required to help foot the bill for the added risk and legal fees.
So from my simplistic scenario above I have a few more questions that should help obviate the very real discrimination going on here:
1. Why is it only homosexual partners that get to enjoy this benefit? What about non-married boyfriend/girlfriends?
2. Why could I not divorce my wife and enjoy the benefits afforded to non-married “partners”?
3. If no legally binding relationship is required; Are any and all non-married persons now eligible for coverage under this plan?
This may be a trend, but it is a very bad trend both economically and socially. Hopefully we as a society will wake up from our foray into moral relativism before it is too late.