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Discrimination Against Straight People At Google?

Sure seems that way. (h/t – GP Reader Peter Hughes)

Starting Thursday, Google will adjust paychecks for its gay and lesbian employees who opt for domestic partner benefits to cover for a tax those employees have to pay, the New York Times reports.

As it is now, Mountain View-based Google offers benefits to the spouses or partners of both straight and gay employees. However, the married straight employees don’t get taxed on those extra benefits — but the gay employees do as part of the federal laws.

The pay raise will be retroactive to the beginning of 2010 and will apply only to employees in the U.S. Heterosexual employees with long-term partners won’t see the pay adjustment, because they could marry and therefore get the tax break if they wished.

Please note that Google employees are now getting paid on TAX LAW and PERCEIVED TAX bias; not getting paid according to his/her abilities. 

Sign me up as completely opposed to this.  Shall I get paid more because I have three dogs to support?

Where does this madness end?

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

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65 Comments

  1. I don’t see what the problem is. Google is a private business and can arrange their compensation plan in anyway they please… that’s the conservative mantra every time we hear of some CEO walking away with a boxcar load of cash, anyway.

    The amount of money is relatively small (to make up the tax paid on “imputed income”). The end result is that gay employees with DP coverage wind up with the same *take home* pay as a similarly situated married couple.

    I wonder if Google provides subsidized day care (which would tend to be used by straight couples).

    Comment by SoCalRobert — July 2, 2010 @ 8:19 pm - July 2, 2010

  2. UMMMMM, free market?

    Comment by Evan Hurst — July 2, 2010 @ 8:21 pm - July 2, 2010

  3. Evan-

    That is a very valid point. But doesn’t also reinforce the impression that gays want “special rights”?

    Comment by GayPatriot — July 2, 2010 @ 8:31 pm - July 2, 2010

  4. Perceived Tax Bias? You dispute that married (or at least civil unioned) same sex couples are being taxed by the federal government over health care benefits in a way that married opposite sex couples are not?

    Comment by Bruce Garrett — July 2, 2010 @ 8:44 pm - July 2, 2010

  5. Google’s unofficial motto according to arecent NPR story – ‘ Do No Evil’ but it is interesting that when one does a Google search for
    ‘Gay’ a rainbow underscore pops up.:)

    Comment by rusty — July 2, 2010 @ 8:48 pm - July 2, 2010

  6. GOOGLES ACTIONS ARE TO BE APPLAUDED. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT HETEROSEXUALS?

    Comment by SPATCHULA JONES — July 2, 2010 @ 8:58 pm - July 2, 2010

  7. Bruce and Peter, I view this a little differently. First, let’s remember that Google as a privately held company, has every right to do it. Second, Google is implicitly upholding the importance of marriage. Google is saying to straights, if you want the benefits of being married, then get married. The only reason we’re doing something different for gays is because in most states, they can’t get married.

    When I was working for gay Domestic Partner benefits in the 1990s at a certain large, HR-trendsetting company that shall remain nameless, I always took the position that we (gays) were only justified in asking for DP benefits because States (and the company) wouldn’t recognize us as married. In other words: the company should deny DP benefits to opposite-sex couples, because they could and should get married if they wanted benefits for their relationship, and marriage was important. That was my stance. Unfortunately I “lost” in that the company gave DP benefits to both gays and straights, but, whatever.

    In this case, Google is out to equalize the *after-tax*, *total* compensation for their gay- and straight-partnered employees. They probably don’t need to and I’m slightly alarmed that they are willing here to accommodate the government’s high – and in this case, unequal – tax policy. If anything bothers me here, it’s Google’s willingness to take the government off the hook by papering over certain harms wrought by the government. But that’s it.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 2, 2010 @ 9:07 pm - July 2, 2010

  8. I mean: The true wrong here is that the government has an income tax. And for most Google employees, a pretty steep one.

    If income taxes were where they should be (i.e. low-to-nonexistent), there’d be little or no financial difference between gays and straights getting partner benefits; nothing for Google to feel they have to paper over.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 2, 2010 @ 9:12 pm - July 2, 2010

  9. “That is a very valid point. But doesn’t also reinforce the impression that gays want “special rights”?”

    Maybe to the undereducated who cling to the notion that gays already have equal rights, but no, not to people who see this for what it is — a company choosing to correct an inequity that exists for its own employees. I would think you would be behind this, rather than being so concerned about the perceptions of a rapidly dwindling segment of the population who buys into Religious Right frameworks such as “Gays can marry a member of the opposite secks, jus’ like anyone else!”

    Comment by Evan Hurst — July 2, 2010 @ 9:24 pm - July 2, 2010

  10. When my boss at my new job (sort of new — I’d been freelancing there for 4 years) told me I’d scored a pretty sweet compensation deal for my rank, I told him that if I took advantage of domestic partner benefits it would be like getting a $3500 salary cut.

    http://wakingupnow.com/blog/google-and-the-federal-domestic-partner-tax

    Comment by Rob Tisinai — July 2, 2010 @ 9:37 pm - July 2, 2010

  11. I’m not going to be opposed to a private company doing what it thinks is best to a right a wrong it perceives in society. I’m kinda surprised you are opposed to it.

    I can see your point that it comes down to whether they are gay or not but Google is trying to make sure their gay employees are actually getting paid the same as their straight employees who can get tax breaks not available to them.

    It definitely makes Google a more attractive employer for gays and lesbians.

    Comment by darkeyedresolve — July 2, 2010 @ 9:45 pm - July 2, 2010

  12. I going to have to agree with ILC on this one. I thought you guys (Bruce and Peter) were for free markets and letting private businesses conduct themselves as they see fit. Hopefully, this churning out of so-con talking points without taking into account past viewpoints and beliefs won’t be a trend amongst yourselves.

    Comment by Jim Michaud — July 2, 2010 @ 9:47 pm - July 2, 2010

  13. Google can do what the heck it wants to do. The problem I have is that everyone in this country tries/hopes to get their health insurance through their employer If you get laid off or fired ……….. no health insurance.

    Comment by Charles — July 2, 2010 @ 10:15 pm - July 2, 2010

  14. Back in 1995 I took a new job at a publishing company and I had to make the decision whether to go with their health plan or my partner’s. He worked for the State of New York, and frankly his plan would have been the better of the two; plus, his plan included dental, which my new employer did not offer. But once we sat down and crunched the numbers, the amount that they were going to take out of my partner’s paycheck was so incredibly high that we would not have been able to make the bills even with two salaries. His pay would literally almost have been cut in half, the tax burden was that great. So I went with my own employer’s insurance. What Google has done is even out a playing field that has been UNeven for far too long. It is called *fairness,* Bruce; surely you have heard that word a time or two.

    Comment by Scott Amundsen — July 2, 2010 @ 10:19 pm - July 2, 2010

  15. Bruce,

    Maybe if the government didn’t give your straight counterparts tax breaks because it deems their relationships more worthy of rewards than yours, responsible employers wouldn’t have to take extra steps to try to equalize the compensation of their employees to match their work.

    Comment by Tim — July 2, 2010 @ 11:17 pm - July 2, 2010

  16. Actually, this is a rather hilarious publicity stunt on Google’s part.

    You see, as any compensation person can tell you, “gross ups” have one big problem — by adding to the person’s salary to compensate for their tax burden, you increase their tax liability above and beyond that for which they were already paying. It’s a bit like a dog chasing its tail — you can raise the person’s salary by $1,000 to compensate for the tax in imputed income, but then that additional income is subject to the additional tax as well, so you’re paying BOTH the imputed income tax amount AND the tax on the additional salary amount. The net effect is that these “gross ups” essentially result in double taxation for the employee.

    In short, it’s an Obama Party solution. The better option would be for Google to use its considerable clout to have the tax assessment removed on non-spousal company-provided health insurance benefits; after all, the Obama administration is already illegally interacting with them. But the problem is that that would negatively affect the Obama Party’s revenue stream; just like with the Pension Protection Act, the Obama Party is adamantly against anything that allows people to keep their own money rather than having to give it to the government.

    And what’s really funny is how quickly gays and lesbians leap to defend double taxation on employees rather than going after the Obama Party for its grabbing for additional tax revenue.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — July 2, 2010 @ 11:28 pm - July 2, 2010

  17. The solution is simple. Don’t work for Google then. That will teach Obama, and its party members. :-)

    Comment by Pat — July 2, 2010 @ 11:42 pm - July 2, 2010

  18. You know…as a gay man who actively participates and is involved in LGBT politics, I actually find this offensive.

    I respect Google’s intent of equalizing gay & straight couples, but to me I see this as special rights (or in this case special circumstances). Google has to go out of their way because registered voters (and non-registered citizens of this country) can’t stand up and set an example for the rest of the world that LGBT people should be respected.

    And, Sadly, many of the mainstream LGBT organizations (pro-Obama) just don’t see the hypocrisy of our admin towards LGBT issues or how much the Obama admin is playing them (like the Jews, Latinos, and African-American community) simply for votes.

    Comment by James Richardson — July 2, 2010 @ 11:45 pm - July 2, 2010

  19. funny pat. . .

    but still looking at this, NDT, is this what you are talking about?

    Federal law states that health benefits granted to an employee’s domestic partner are classified as taxable income, while married couples are exempt. According to a New York Times article, gay and lesbian employees that claim their partner on their health insurance pay roughly $1,070 more in taxes per year than their married counterparts. The new compensation that goes into effect today is retroactive from January 1, and will pay that difference as well as any additional taxes from benefits for dependents.

    Comment by rusty — July 2, 2010 @ 11:51 pm - July 2, 2010

  20. Yup.

    So what that means is this:

    - You are paying $1,070 more in taxes

    - You are now going to pay an additional percentage (in California, probably somewhere around 40%) on the additional $1,070 Google is giving you to cover that $1,070 you were paying in the first place.

    And incidentally, it is not just on domestic partners; it is on any other non-spousal beneficiary. In 2006, Federal law was changed by the Republicans, over strong opposition from the Obama Party, to allow non-spousal beneficiaries of 401(k) and other qualified retirement plans to roll over funds into another qualified account without incurring a tax penalty.

    All that needs to be done is to change the Federal tax code in the same way for Sections 125 and 132 of the IRS code, and it could be done without running afoul of DOMA or anything else. But these taxes are billions of dollars in revenue for the Obama Party, and thus, it will not happen, just as the Obama Party tried to block the Pension Protection Act so that it would continue to collect taxes on retirement fund rollovers to beneficiaries.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — July 3, 2010 @ 12:13 am - July 3, 2010

  21. “….PERCEIVED tax bias…”

    what the heck does this even mean? are you denying the fact that gay employees are taxed on their domestic partner benefits?

    Comment by Chad — July 3, 2010 @ 12:15 am - July 3, 2010

  22. are you denying the fact that gay employees are taxed on their domestic partner benefits?

    No, but since EVERY person who has non-spousal benefits is taxed, regardless of sexual orientation, any belief that this applies only to gay and lesbian people has a perceived bias.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — July 3, 2010 @ 12:58 am - July 3, 2010

  23. Yes, Google is a private company and they have the right to compensate their employees as they see fit. But what would happen to a company that decided to pay heterosexuals more for whatever reason? Or white employees more than Black employees? What would happen to them?

    I mean, look what happened to eHarmony, a private company that ran afoul of the gay PC police.

    Comment by V the K — July 3, 2010 @ 2:22 am - July 3, 2010

  24. what would happen to a company that decided to pay heterosexuals more for whatever reason?

    But we know. Look at any company that offers no DP benefits (to gays – while offering valuable insurance benefits to married straights). There are still a lot of them out there. They usually do OK. Gays are mostly expected to suck it up and if they’re offended, then work for another company (e.g. that does offer DP benefits). Which is the right answer – there, and here with anyone who is offended by Google. I call it, human freedom.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 3, 2010 @ 4:35 am - July 3, 2010

  25. The better option would be for Google to use its considerable clout to have the tax assessment removed on non-spousal company-provided health insurance benefits

    Agreed.

    I respect Google’s intent of equalizing gay & straight couples, but… I see this as… special circumstances… Google has [had] to go out of their way…

    Pretty much agreed. Again, the real wrongs here (in order of importance) are:
    1) That we have a Federal income tax.
    2) That it’s high.
    3) That it’s funky / complicated.
    4) That it does not recognize State-licensed gay civil unions / domestic partnerships / marriages.
    5) Then maybe what Google is doing. Or maybe not.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 3, 2010 @ 5:00 am - July 3, 2010

  26. I wonder if the people who are now proclaiming, “Private companies have a right to discriminate” were the same ones who were all over Rand Paul a month or so ago for suggesting that regulating the hiring practices of private business was beyond the purview of the USG.

    Comment by V the K — July 3, 2010 @ 9:06 am - July 3, 2010

  27. “Gays can marry a member of the opposite secks, jus’ like anyone else!”

    Yeah, I cringe every time I hear that simple-minded reponse.

    any belief that this applies only to gay and lesbian people has a perceived bias.

    What bias. (cringing) Straight people have the same opportunity as gay people to enter a DP/CU with someone of the same sex.

    Actually, I do see one solution to this “perceived” “discrimination.”

    Comment by Pat — July 3, 2010 @ 10:24 am - July 3, 2010

  28. 1. Do you actually think that the tax provisions forcing gay couples to pay extra federal tax on their health insurance benefits are just?

    2. And if you agree they’re unjust, why should a private company be condemned for attempting to remedy the injustice out of their own pocket?

    Please tell me that one of your co-bloggers will disagree with you pointedly on this.

    Comment by Dan L — July 3, 2010 @ 10:57 am - July 3, 2010

  29. #26 … Excluding ILC, since he wasn’t ;-)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 3, 2010 @ 11:06 am - July 3, 2010

  30. As a laissez-faire capitalist, I am ethically compelled to echo the sentiments of those here who believe that a privately-held company is free to conduct its business as it sees fit, provided it does so within the law.

    V the K said…

    I mean, look what happened to eHarmony, a private company that ran afoul of the gay PC police.

    I have never bothered to concern myself with a business that markets itself as a dating service, but essentially charges a fee for the same product the “Casual Encounters” section of craigslist gives away for free.

    However, if “Dr” Neil Clark Warren allowed himself to be extorted into providing a product he didn’t want to provide, then I personally believe he’s an even bigger twat than I initially suspected. But again, it is HIS company, so I suppose he is free to be as big a twat as he aspires to.

    I don’t always agree with a business’ practices, but I try to maintain the courage of my convictions. Hence, Google can do what it wants, and if Ben & Jerry want to demand a ridiculous amount of money for their “free-trade vanilla,” so be it.

    I’m a Dean’s Orange Sherbet man, myself.

    Comment by Eric Olsen — July 3, 2010 @ 11:34 am - July 3, 2010

  31. I have not read every comment thoroughly, but I think there may be something missing here.

    Shouldn’t Google pay their single employees more to make up for the married employees tax advantage?

    Heterosexual employees with long-term partners won’t see the pay adjustment, because they could marry and therefore get the tax break if they wished.

    Huh? Why does the company exclude long-term, heterosexual, unmarried “partners” and just accept gay “partners” with no provisos about long-term? It appears to me that any uncommitted gay who tells Google he has a “partner” is going to get the pay adjustment. Is Google going to Google this guy’s privacy rights to check up on his claim?

    I think that gay couples should have to get “Google-hitched” in order to qualify for the money and they should submit to having their quarters under Google watch for continued evidence of cohabitation and longevity.

    Comment by heliotrope — July 3, 2010 @ 11:44 am - July 3, 2010

  32. Yes, yes. As a private enterprise, Google can pay its employees whatever the heck it wants on whatever basis it wants and as a private citizen I am certainly free to voice my opposition all I want on whatever basis I want.
    However, I cannot impose anything upon Google other than altering my own behavior to avoid peaceable, voluntary commerce with them. That is the free market conservatives espouse. Because we are free doesn’t mean always have to agree.
    As Google is being very open and direct about this discriminatory behavior, I am now free to make the choice.
    And finally the point, my beef with this is that it enables government to engage in unequal treatment.
    I would prefer Google expend it considerable resources on promoting an equal (or is the correct term ‘equivalent’ now?) tax schema for all citizens.

    Comment by BigJ — July 3, 2010 @ 12:42 pm - July 3, 2010

  33. Why does the company exclude long-term, heterosexual, unmarried “partners”

    Because they can get married.

    Shouldn’t Google pay their single employees more…?

    It appears to me that any uncommitted gay who tells Google he has a “partner” is going to get the pay adjustment.

    Probably so, on both points. See #25 for why I don’t think they are the top wrongs here.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 3, 2010 @ 12:52 pm - July 3, 2010

  34. It seems to me that no matter how you slice it, this is discrimination based on sexual orientation. The government is discriminating based on sexual orientation in the tax code. The tax code is filled with carve-outs for all kinds of special interests. Google is paying homosexuals more money than heterosexuals. That is discrimination based on sexual orientation. Sorry but two wrongs don’t make a right. Google is trying to level the playing field, I get that; but the fact remains.

    I’ve seen the Rand Paul discussion on here and elsewhere and I’ve had many discussions about it. My personal belief is that, as a private citizen, I should be able to hire, fire, sell to, buy from, rent to, rent from… anybody for whatever reason I see fit. However, many people disagree with my opinion. There are many laws on the books that disagree with my opinion, including discrimination by companies based on sexual orientation.

    Now I believe Google has the right to compensate their employees as they see fit and applaud their efforts to level the playing field for their homosexual employees. But you can’t have it both ways. There is no “good” or “bad” discrimination.

    Comment by Grizzly Glenn — July 3, 2010 @ 2:17 pm - July 3, 2010

  35. ILC re: #25

    Agreed.

    My mind boggles at the idea that long-term, heterosexual partnerships are not embraced by the same folks who want to change the marriage definition. If marriage is to be changed to include gays, then it stands to reason that mere partnerships, whether gay or hetero should be: a) equal to marriage or b) discouraged in favor of marriage or c) subject to intensive investigation by the Social Justice Czar.

    I am still concerned for the poor Muslim with multiple wives. Does he get company health insurance for all his partners? Or does he just have to say “I divorce you” three times until he get down to one wife? Where does Google stand on this crisis?

    Comment by heliotrope — July 3, 2010 @ 2:32 pm - July 3, 2010

  36. If marriage is to be changed to include gays, then it stands to reason that mere partnerships, whether gay or hetero should be: a) equal to marriage or b) discouraged in favor of marriage or c) subject to intensive investigation by the Social Justice Czar.

    Heliotrope, if (federal) marriage included gay persons, then Google would not bother to change anything to accommodate its gay employees.

    I am still concerned for the poor Muslim with multiple wives. Does he get company health insurance for all his partners? Or does he just have to say “I divorce you” three times until he get down to one wife? Where does Google stand on this crisis?

    Well, I’m not concerned (as I’m guessing you aren’t either). In any case, as the law stands in the U.S., he can only be legally married to one of these wives. So I guess that wife would be entitled to the health care benefits, although all his children would be entitled as well. lf Google wants to grant benefits (or the equivalent) to the other three wives, that’s their prerogative. Somehow, I don’t think that will be as popular and well-received.

    I think that gay couples should have to get “Google-hitched” in order to qualify for the money and they should submit to having their quarters under Google watch for continued evidence of cohabitation and longevity.

    Why just gay couples? Should we also make sure that married couples are living together, or whatever, as opposed to those who remain officially married, but in reality, no longer act as a married couple.

    Comment by Pat — July 3, 2010 @ 6:45 pm - July 3, 2010

  37. Should we also make sure that married couples are living together, or whatever, as opposed to those who remain officially married, but in reality, no longer act as a married couple.

    AMEN PAT!

    It ain’t cheap to get a divorce now. One of the things that keeps people ‘pretending’ to be married are corporate bene’s. for the spouse and the children.

    Comment by rusty — July 3, 2010 @ 8:00 pm - July 3, 2010

  38. Aren’t marriage taxes going up in January, along with an ass load of other taxes?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 4, 2010 @ 2:26 am - July 4, 2010

  39. Found this thread on the way to another subject…

    Most writers here are dancing around the real “conservative” issue…I have to ask why there are “exemptions,” “off-sets,” “pre-tax deductions,” “deductions” of any sort, and a pervasive “entitlement” position on the part of ANY conservative citizen? The backroom deals between federal and state legislators and the insurance companies, the political under-the-table arrangements with state “regulators,” the green eye-shade sleaze in corporate medical offices, and the “gimmee more” gullibility of the “sheeple,” regarding O’s healthcare travesty – all are just feeding the appetite of an out-of-control government monster. I’d propose we ALL stop enabling the perpetuation of government growth – concentrate on the cause, not the symptoms.

    Comment by Charles — July 4, 2010 @ 8:51 am - July 4, 2010

  40. Pat,

    You caught the drift of my comments, but somehow I did not make clear that Google is selectively discriminating in favor of one group only: the gays. Some here say that is their right. I am not so sure.

    If Google paid blacks a token more as reparations for slavery, I suspect the courts would become involved.

    The Google premise is that gays should be allowed to marry. Fine. They are allowed political speech. Google ups the premise by assuming the gay with a partner would marry if allowed to do so. OK. We all make assumptions. Google pays the gay with a partner the smidgeon of money he loses by not being able to file his income tax as being married.

    Google does not give the same “benefit” to heteros in a partnership because: they can marry, but have not done so. Huh? Is Google all about marriage or is Google only concerned with gay marriage?

    Frankly, Pat, I don’t give a darn. It is just another feel good move that makes Google a leader in the piety dance contest. It hardly affects the bottom line and it might even attract valuable gay employees. But it is totally gay-centric and not very defensible in light of how the screwed up tax code plays games with people’s lives in myriad ways. Suffice it to say, this Google action is a key issue for discussion on a gay site. But in the grand scheme of things, it is a convoluted action that has no clear genesis or remedy unless Google is full-bore committed to backing gay marriage.

    Comment by heliotrope — July 4, 2010 @ 9:37 am - July 4, 2010

  41. You caught the drift of my comments, but somehow I did not make clear that Google is selectively discriminating in favor of one group only: the gays.

    Heliotrope, you did make it clear. I simply disagree. If there was same sex marriage with the same federal and state benefits, etc., that opposite sex couples are afforded, and then Google decided to also grant these benefits to same sex couples with only DP or CU, and didn’t to opposite sex couples, I would be in complete agreement with you.

    If Google paid blacks a token more as reparations for slavery, I suspect the courts would become involved.

    Maybe so, I don’t know. The point is that a gay person in a DP/CU before this policy was not getting the same as his straight colleagues.

    Google ups the premise by assuming the gay with a partner would marry if allowed to do so. OK. We all make assumptions. Google pays the gay with a partner the smidgeon of money he loses by not being able to file his income tax as being married.

    That’s pretty much the point.

    Google does not give the same “benefit” to heteros in a partnership because: they can marry, but have not done so. Huh? Is Google all about marriage or is Google only concerned with gay marriage?

    It sounds like Google is concerned about marriage, and supports gay couples being afforded the same opportunity. I’m presuming that, if and when, same sex marriage is recognized federally, that, after a grace period, this “benefit” to CU/DP couples will end. If not, then I would be in complete agreement with you.

    But it is totally gay-centric and not very defensible in light of how the screwed up tax code plays games with people’s lives in myriad ways.

    It’s not gay-centric, unless if in addition, they docked a (straight) married person’s pay, so that the pay/benefits were equivalent to a gay person’s pay/benefits before the policy was instituted.

    As for the tax code, I won’t argue that it’s screwed up. Perhaps the IRS should just get rid of the married category to make things simpler.

    Google is full-bore committed to backing gay marriage.

    My sense is that Google is committed to same sex marriage. As to what efforts they are lobbying Congress or other efforts to get it done, I don’t know.

    Comment by Pat — July 4, 2010 @ 10:26 am - July 4, 2010

  42. Letting one group keep more of the money they earned by taxing them less (or reimbursing them) is not stealing from some other group. If you are against this google thing, you also have to believe that tax cuts for the rich is theft from the poor. Do you believe that?

    On a related note, are you sure you’re actually gay? I wonder if you think so because some Republican dude once called you gay, and a Republican could never be wrong about anything.

    This 4th of July, how about celebrating the freedom to think for yourself? Try smoking a doobie, kissing a girl, voting Democratic, listening to some rock and roll music, reading a logic textbook. You might like it.

    Comment by casey — July 4, 2010 @ 12:29 pm - July 4, 2010

  43. t appears to me that any uncommitted gay who tells Google he has a “partner” is going to get the pay adjustment.

    Wrong. The adjustment takes place only in respect of those benefits – health insurance, primarily – provided to domestic partners. No one can stroll down to HR and say “I’m gay: gimme more money.” Well they could but it won’t happen. Unless DP benefits are going to that employee, their compensation remains unchanged.

    Companies provide health insurance to the families of employees. For married couples, the value of the insruance benefit is not treated as income. They pay no tax on it. That’s the way it has been for a long time and it is so largely because business and the goobermint collaborated. They do it because it helps to attract and retain the best employees.

    During the 90′s, and continuing until now, companies have moved inexorably toward DP benefits. Why? Because the gays pressure them into it? No, it is because it helps them get the best employees. It’s a business decision.

    Google, by this act, recognizes that families exist outside of the traditional , het, married family. They further recognize that an unfairness exists in the tax law with respect to DP benefits. What’s more, they know that many of their best people are LGBT and they want to do what they can to retain them. If the benefits package at Google is better than, say, Yahoo, Google preempts poaching by Yahoo. Expect to see other companies follow suit.

    Does it leave marks when that invisible hand slaps you upside your face?

    Comment by PeeJ — July 4, 2010 @ 12:41 pm - July 4, 2010

  44. Trying once more to put my finger on this. Google’s move isn’t outrageous, but it’s half-baked. It’s sweet of them to notice that the Federal tax code treats gay couples differently from straight couples. But, as NDT pointed out (#20), their solution does NOT achieve its goal of equality. As several have noticed, it ‘enables’ the government in some bad policies, rather than working for a real change.

    Finally, it does all this at the expense of Google shareholders. In effect, Google is self-taxing its shareholders in order to enable some bad government policy. I think that is what may be vaguely creepy here. If Google wants to solve the problem for real, and feels that wealthy, then they should take the same money and use it to lobby for proper Federal tax code changes.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 4, 2010 @ 12:51 pm - July 4, 2010

  45. No one can stroll down to HR and say “I’m gay: gimme more money.”

    No, but they can stroll down to HR and say in effect “My new roommate whom I’ve known for ten minutes and don’t really care about, is my partner: gimme more money.” I expect that’s where heliotrope was going.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 4, 2010 @ 12:53 pm - July 4, 2010

  46. Its not special rights, its equal rights. If straight folk are pissed about the issue then they should call their local legislators to remove the tax penalty from the health benefits from the LGB partners.

    Usually the LGBT community is known to be a creative class, and Google is doing what they can to keep them on staff.

    Comment by Matt Munson — July 4, 2010 @ 1:04 pm - July 4, 2010

  47. No, but they can stroll down to HR and say in effect “My new roommate whom I’ve known for ten minutes and don’t really care about, is my partner: gimme more money.”

    No, no no. And no. What’s more, NO. They won’t get any more money. At most, they can get insurance coverage for someone without getting less take home pay, than without the new policy.

    You’ve got it exactly backwards: they are now effectively paying straight people more than they pay gays. The policy is only adjusting for that already discriminatory situation. The increase in pay only adjusts for the EXTRA TAXES that DP employees ALREADY PAY. That they end up taking home more money now is only because Google basically fixed the unfair tax policy.

    Criminy, people – getting upset over a private companies business decisions in which no one is harmed is beyond absurd. Google is one of the most successful businesses ever, right? Why dont’ you respect that? Why do you hate capitalism?

    Comment by PeeJ — July 4, 2010 @ 2:06 pm - July 4, 2010

  48. Finally, it does all this at the expense of Google shareholders. In effect, Google is self-taxing its shareholders in order to enable some bad government policy. I think that is what may be vaguely creepy here. If Google wants to solve the problem for real, and feels that wealthy, then they should take the same money and use it to lobby for proper Federal tax code changes.

    That’s an incredibly twisted and lame-assed attempt to justify discrimination. Google is _enabling_? That woulod be really funny if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

    That they are taxing they shareholders is also a st00pid claim. They have made a business decision. If their shareholers want to make an issue of it, they may. I suspect, given the gorgeous returns Google is known for, they will trust the company to do the right thing. Let the market decide! Right? Right?

    How does “lobbying for tax changes” – which you presume they aren’t already doing – fix the inequity? It doesn’t. You just can’t stand the thought of those icky gays getting as good as you. You are a very small person.

    Comment by PeeJ — July 4, 2010 @ 2:14 pm - July 4, 2010

  49. [...] Discrimination Against Straight People At Google? [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Google’s Private Means to Promote Beneficial Social Change? — July 4, 2010 @ 3:00 pm - July 4, 2010

  50. No, no no. And no. What’s more, NO. They won’t get any more money. At most, they can get insurance coverage for someone without getting less take home pay, than without the new policy.

    Sooooo…..they aren’t, but they are? Wanna try again?No, no no. And no. What’s more, NO. They won’t get any more money. At most, they can get insurance coverage for someone without getting less take home pay, than without the new policy.

    You just can’t stand the thought of those icky gays getting as good as you.

    Know what happens when you ASSume? You make an ass out of yourself and bug the hell out of everybody else.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 4, 2010 @ 5:19 pm - July 4, 2010

  51. PeeJ,

    I am having a very hard time trying to read what you are trying to communicate. So much so, that I can not tell what you are saying.

    From my perspective, Google has the corporate right to do what it wishes with its money. I am neanderthal enough to allow them to NOT hire me because of my skin color. If they want their receptionists to look like Fox News cuties, I do not care. I would not support them leading a parade for ugly people at the front desk. On the other hand, if they want to put butt ugly and gross people at the front desk, I also support that decision. Clear?

    Google chooses to supplement gays with partners to offset the loses occurred because the gays can not marry and get the married tax rate. Fine by me. It is their money. Furthermore, if it attracts gays with partners who have great talent, I would call it a brilliant business decision. Clear?

    Single people pay more taxes because they can not get the married tax rate. How about them? What are they, chopped liver? Heteros who eschew marriage but couple up are not getting the Google extra pay boost. Why? Does Google have a special soft spot for gays?

    What is the operating premise at Google? Mind you, I really don’t care. They can set themselves on fire on days that come before a legal holiday, if they like.

    This is a “gay” site and the comments seem not to question why Google only moved to offset tax anomalies for gays when the tax code screws gays and non gays in lots of other ways as well.

    It appears to my homophobe, str8 self that Google is not fully clear in its own corporate mind about what it is doing and why.

    I anxiously await an edumacation.

    And, thanks, ILC. You understand my point perfectly.

    Comment by heliotrope — July 4, 2010 @ 5:19 pm - July 4, 2010

  52. You’ve got it exactly backwards: they are now effectively paying straight people more than they pay gays.

    No, they are not.

    Previously, Google was paying straight and gay people exactly the same amount.

    However, the gay-sex liberal Obama Party is charging people who aren’t married more in taxes. Furthermore, the gay-sex liberal Obama Party adamantly REFUSED to change the exemption in federal law and extend it to non-spousal beneficiaries, because doing so would reduce the amount of Federal tax revenue.

    In addition, the difference is not on the basis of sexual orientation. If a gay man and lesbian entered a marriage, they would receive the exemption as well. If an opposite-sex heterosexual couple wants DP benefits, they can get them, and they will pay the additional tax as well. In that case, you would have gay people being “paid more” and straight people being “paid less”.

    There are two problems with you, PeeJ.

    First, you are too ignorant to understand the difference between base salary and take-home pay. Two employees with the same base salary may receive very different take-home pay amounts due to their different CHOICES, such as their election of health coverage, their 401(k) contributions, their exemptions and deferrals, and so forth.

    Second, as a good Obama Party puppet gay, you are incapable of acknowledging that the problem could be easily fixed by changing the tax code. The reason why is twofold — one, you’re not as interested in fixing the problem as you are trying to use this as a red herring for gay-sex marriage, and two, you are incapable of criticizing your Obama Party for its REFUSAL to do so as part of the health care “reform” bill, because that would mean they were “homophobic”.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — July 4, 2010 @ 5:28 pm - July 4, 2010

  53. Also, I would point out the flaw in the gay leftist “logic” here:

    – Gay leftists are screaming that only gay and lesbian employees are affected. Therefore, Google is paying people differently based on their sexual orientation.

    Illegal in the state of California, by the way.

    – Gay leftists are screaming that only gay and lesbian people who are partnered are getting salary increases. Therefore, Google is paying people differently based on their relationship status.

    Illegal in BOTH California and under Federal law.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — July 4, 2010 @ 5:31 pm - July 4, 2010

  54. Single people pay more taxes because they can not get the married tax rate. How about them? What are they, chopped liver?

    Single gay people don’t get paid any more than single straight people. Married people (may, but not necessarily) get more in benefits than single people. If that’s discrimination, then Google is discriminating against single people regardless of sexual orientation.

    Heteros who eschew marriage but couple up are not getting the Google extra pay boost. Why?

    Does the company pay DP benefits? If the straight couple wants to receive beenfits which are excluded from federal taxes for married people then they should get married. If the company were to provide DP benefits for hetero couples, those benefits WOULD be taxed, just like the gay couple’s. Many straight couples qwho would otherwise divorce do not legally dissolve their marriages to exploit that very fact. The issue is completely tied to marital status, it has nothing to do with sexuality – except that gays can’t get married.

    Does Google have a special soft spot for gays?

    Perhaps, though they dont’ seem to obsess about gays nearly as you do.

    Comment by PeeJ — July 4, 2010 @ 5:54 pm - July 4, 2010

  55. Second, as a good Obama Party puppet gay, you are incapable of acknowledging that the problem could be easily fixed by changing the tax code.

    Yes, changes to the tax code are easily made, overnight even, at the whim of individuals. It’s the easiest thing in the world, everyone knows how easy it is to change the tax code. I am stunned that I did not realize how incredibly simple and easy it is to change the tax code. And apparently, it can be done by the administration, completekly without any involvement by Congress. F—ing legistlaures – how do they work?

    Comment by PeeJ — July 4, 2010 @ 5:58 pm - July 4, 2010

  56. Single gay people don’t get paid any more than single straight people. Married people (may, but not necessarily) get more in benefits than single people. If that’s discrimination, then Google is discriminating against single people regardless of sexual orientation.

    Which it now is, because it is paying people more IN CASH based on their relationship status.

    Again, PeeJ, if you weren’t so desperate to be a good Obama troll and defend your Obama Party for opposing the repeal of this provision in tax law, you might be able to admit that this is a really idiotic response.

    Also, I would point out the following:

    – For gay men, the median household income is $83,000 per year (gay singles $62,000; gay couples living together $130,000), almost 80% above the median U.S. household income of $46,326, according to US census data.

    – For lesbians, the median household income is $80,000 per year (Lesbian singles $52,000; Lesbian couples living together $96,000)

    So since gay-sex liberal PeeJ and his fellow “health care reform” supporters insist that people who make more should be taxed more on their health care benefits, what they are doing is exactly opposite what they advocate in the first place.

    Since gay and lesbian people make more, they should be taxed more. Isn’t that right, PeeJ? Or are you going to be a good little hypocrite now and argue that gay and lesbian people should be taxed less? Since the gay and lesbian community overwhelmingly endorses higher taxes, why do they scream that paying higher taxes is “unfair”? Is it because gay and lesbian people like you are hypocrites?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — July 4, 2010 @ 6:22 pm - July 4, 2010

  57. Jeez! Peej gets more confusing as he goes along. If only he’d actually answer questions.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 4, 2010 @ 10:04 pm - July 4, 2010

  58. And also, I would point out that the Obama Party, which owns and commands the vast majority of gays and lesbians in this country, has established the following mantras.

    – Richer people should be forced to pay higher taxes to pull the poor out of poverty

    Paying higher taxes is your patriotic duty

    Therefore, gay and lesbian people who rail against paying higher taxes, such as in this case, are unpatriotic and hate poor people.

    Now watch how quickly Rob Tisinai, Evan Hurst, and their fellows reverse themselves and argue that it’s the patriotic duty of gays and lesbians to pay higher taxes.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — July 5, 2010 @ 12:00 am - July 5, 2010

  59. – Richer people should be forced to pay higher taxes to pull the poor out of poverty

    – Paying higher taxes is your patriotic duty

    Which is why they’re taxing wounded veterans for medical equipment via the ObamaCareless healthcare bastardization.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 5, 2010 @ 3:23 am - July 5, 2010

  60. Like I said elsewhere, Google does discriminate against unmarried straight couples. I’m all for letting them, but hten people who don’t have an issue with it should never comment about private businesses discriminating.

    Funny that PeeJ wants to have his partnership method recognized, but demands two straight folks get married to get the benefits he thinks he deserves.

    Liberty for thee and not for me PeeJ?

    Comment by The_Livewire — July 5, 2010 @ 9:18 am - July 5, 2010

  61. Wanted to add this bit.

    PeeJ wrote:

    If the straight couple wants to receive beenfits which are excluded from federal taxes for married people then they should get married.

    So if the same sex couple wants to receive benefits, one of ‘em should get a sex change operation, then they can get married to get benefits. Right PeeJ?

    Comment by The_Livewire — July 6, 2010 @ 7:43 am - July 6, 2010

  62. Peej – Your rant at #48 is one of the stupider things I’ve read on this blog, doing nothing whatever to answer my points. Perhaps it was therapeutic for you, although I would doubt even that.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 6, 2010 @ 10:26 am - July 6, 2010

  63. As an example of your stupidity, Peej, take this:

    How does “lobbying for tax changes” – which you presume they aren’t already doing – fix the inequity?

    It works like this, Peej. The problem that Google wants to fix, is that when they give partner benefits to a gay couple, the Federal tax codes taxes it as “imputed income”. Which the Federal tax code wouldn’t do for a gay couple. Now, if the Federal tax code were changed to recognize gay civil unions, and so to NOT tax the gay couple – that would fix the problem. And you know what? It would fix it for all gay couples. Not just the ones who work for Google.

    Now is that explanation clear enough for you, Peej? Or are you too PLAIN STUPID to understand it? There’s also this:

    You just can’t stand the thought of those icky gays getting as good as you.

    How very little you know about me, Peej. Please scroll up to my comment #7. Then read the lead sentence of my second paragraph. Then reflect on how completely, utterly stupid your comment was. Thanks!

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 6, 2010 @ 10:31 am - July 6, 2010

  64. Sorry, typo – “The problem that Google wants to fix, is that when they give partner benefits to a gay couple, the Federal tax code taxes it as ‘imputed income’… which it wouldn’t do for a -straight- couple.”

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 6, 2010 @ 10:32 am - July 6, 2010

  65. Bruce, just a couple of thoughts:

    Shall I get paid more because I have three dogs to support?

    Of course not. Because under the tax code, your dogs are irrelevant whether you are heterosexual or homosexual. Which sort of gets to this other comment:

    Please note that Google employees are now getting paid on TAX LAW and PERCEIVED TAX bias; not getting paid according to his/her abilities.

    I get what you’re saying, but I disagree. I think Google’s point is not that there is a “perceived” tax bias for their partnered GLBT employees. The tax code is biased – toward married couples. Nothing wrong with that per se, but in the end it means that this particular business, which chooses to offer benefits to partnered gay employees, ends up with employees getting paid less after taxes than their heterosexual counterparts.

    Let me attempt to turn your statement around to offer another way to look at it: Partnered gay couples are paid less for the same abilities because the tax code imposes a higher burden on them. I don’t think this is a statement of perceived biases at all. It’s simply a fact of the tax code.

    This has been an interesting discussion to read in the comments. I do think there’s something we’ve missed here though – the symbolism of Google’s action. In much the same way that chaining yourself to the White House fence accomplishes little immediate affect on DADT but can have enormous symbolic value in raising awareness, you can look at this action by Google as having power to bring attention to an inequity in the tax code. It’s a statement (in some ways) by Google that their GLBT employees are just as valuable as their heterosexual employees and can bring awareness to the clueless that the tax law treats them differently.

    I admit to being a bit biased on this issue, since I work for a large company that offers DP benefits, and it does impact my taxes negatively. It’s a trade-off I willing made when my partner was self-employed because the astronomical cost of private health insurance for him was far higher than my added tax burden.

    Comment by Neptune — July 6, 2010 @ 12:21 pm - July 6, 2010

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