Same sex couples can officially get married in Washington on Sunday, and the city originally planned on giving some of those couples a controversial wedding gift.
Despite being legally married in Washington, same sex couples will not be getting the same federal tax break offered to heterosexual couples.
In most cases, an employee can add a spouse to a medical plan and the employer will pay a portion of the spouse's monthly medical premium. But because the IRS does not recognize same sex marriages, their spousal medical benefit is considered taxable income.
The same benefit of a heterosexual married couple is not considered taxable income, which means married gay couples will pay more federal income tax.
McGinn and other city leaders say that's not fair, so they came up with a plan to give gay city workers a cash allowance to cover the difference in federal taxes.
"If the federal government has an unjust law, I don't think it's fair to punish our workers who are following all the rules," McGinn said.
The plan was to give those workers $90 a month to pay the tax, which could cost the city as much as $162,000 next year. While many agreed with the plan, others are calling the allowance a "pay raise for being gay."
"If the mayor is now in the position of determining the city is going to justify, provide justice for tax inequities, then I think that's a precarious position to put the city of Seattle in," said Joseph Backholm of the Family Institute of Washington.
Backholm, who campaigned against Washington's same sex marriage initiative, said by selectively paying so-call "unjust" tax liabilities for city workers, the city is opening the door for other employees who believe they are being unfairly taxed.
"I do not believe it's a wise decision to open up the taxpayers for liability to pay for the individual tax liabilities of city employees," he said.
McGinn said the city just wants to be fair to all of its employees, but word came late Tuesday that the city was scrapping -- at least temporarily -- the allowance plan.
In a written statement, McGinn said a Tuesday afternoon email from the city's law department forced him to cancel a planned Wednesday news conference to officially announce the allowance.
"The law department informed us that this effort would be in violation of state law and that we should not host a press conference with councilmembers. Based on this latest advice, we are not holding a press conference on this work tomorrow and are now evaluating our options for next steps in our work to help address these inequalities," the statement read.
McGinn said the same department had previously advised the city that the plan would be legal.