Focus on the Family is accusing Google of giving its gay and lesbian employees special treatment.
The information giant announced a new policy that will compensate its gay and lesbian employees for the federal taxes they must pay on when they take advantage of domestic partner health benefits. The perk, however, hasn’t been extended to unmarried heterosexual couples on the payroll, though, for obvious reasons, because heterosexuals “have the option of avoiding the tax by getting married.”
Focus cried foul to FoxNews saying: “If Google wants to be truly fair to its employees, it should consider extra compensation to married heterosexuals who are bitten every April 15 by the marriage-penalty tax,” spokesman Gary Schneeberger told FoxNews.com. “How is offering more money to only one group to offset a perceived inequity not a form of discrimination against those groups not fortunate enough to receive such bonuses?”
Fox legal analyst Lisa Wiehl said the law could be challenged on grounds of ‘reverse discrimination’: “because of the equal pay for equal work statute which says that if I’m doing the same job as the person next to me that my marital status or sexual orientation shouldn’t be taken into consideration. It’s my work performance that should be taken into consideration.”
Readers commenting on the Fox site are vowing to boycott Google in favor of Bing, Microsoft’s latest venture into the search engine business.
They might want to rethink that move, too, since Microsoft was one of the first companies to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policies and actually offers “partial coverage for transgender surgery (effective in 2006) to its existing coverage of other transgender-specific health benefits.”
In the words of Homer Simpson, “D’oh!”
Two thoughts come to mind while reading this:
1. Good on Google for doing something Congress should have done when they passed health care reform. Removing the unfair taxation of domestic partner benefits was in the original legislation but was stripped out in the Senate version. (They also announced in the same blog post that they would begin offering family and medical leave to its gay and lesbian employees.)
2. I thought conservative groups like Focus on the Family were champions of business and the free market. If a company wants to give an extra perk one group of its employees so it can attract and retain qualified talent, then what business is it of yours? Or, do you only champion the freedom of businesses to do as they please only when it benefits the people you like?