Taxes show inequality toward LGBT community

Tax day hardly ever draws elated responses from anyone. However, the real victims of April 15 belong to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

So much is unfair concerning the U.S. tax system and same-sex married couples that it is almost comical, but unfortunately, this situation is a grim-faced and hard reality for many LGBT members.

Tax season is a sad reminder for same-sex couples of the ridiculous and outrageous double standards they face in the eyes and policies of the government.

An article in The Huffington Post identified the fact that while the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘equal pay for equal work’ concept has made its advances in the business world, the same application to same-sex couples has just recently caught on: “Recognizing that their lesbian and gay employees deserve equal pay for equal work and that they need a diverse workforce to compete in today’s economy, more than half of Fortune 500 companies now offer health benefits to their employees’ same-sex domestic partners – up from only one in 1992.”

This is an admirable advancement, but there’s a massive catch.

The U.S. tax system doesn’t parallel or reflect this step toward equality and support of “true meritocracy” in the workplace. Under current federal law, employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners fall prey to both income and payroll tax. Consequently, a gay or lesbian worker who claims this benefit will take home less money than his or her straight colleague. As the article states, “This is not only unfair – it’s bad public policy.”

Continuing in the vein of bad policy, inequality, as always, abounds in the categorization of the LGBT community regarding being in a ‘domestic partnership’ or ‘civil union’. Britney Spears’ 2004 sham of a wedding lasted for approximately 55 hours, but she and her husband would have received a tax break if the marriage had lasted longer. There are gay and lesbian couples who have been in serious, committed, decade-spanning relationships that under federal law cannot qualify for tax breaks. The only thing separating same-sex couples from qualifying is Congress’ concept of that little controversial word so past due to equally apply to people in love of any gender-marriage.

The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act offers attractive benefits to employees with opposite-sex spouses, yet does not provide the same benefits to lesbian and gay employees with partners. It’s time for this to be redrawn and reapplied.

It’s 2010, and our president is black. We have had women run for president, and we have affirmative action in colleges. Let’s continue with this progress in every aspect of our country’s policies.

It’s 2010, and it’s time for Congress to stop fixating on words like ‘marriage’ and ‘same-sex’ and focus on finally granting equal rights to every (supposedly) free citizen regarding taxes, work, marriage and life.

Opinion editor Andrea Bolt is a junior news-editorial journalism major from The Woodlands.