Romney adds to the GOP’s gender problem


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spent almost a full day yesterday denying the GOP's gender problem and his campaign made matters worse by refusing to back the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, signed by President Obama in 2009 despite powerful opposition from Republicans in Congress.

In a telephone press conference Romney aides said, "We'll get back to you," when reporters asked whether the candidate backs the equal pay law. Late in the day Romney tried to undo the damage by saying he supports equal pay but he ran away from questions about whether he supported the equal pay law itself.

The Ledbetter Act strengthens the ability of women to sue over equal-pay discrimination claims. It allows the 180-day statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit to reset with each new discriminatory paycheck.

When the bill was before Congress in 2009, most Republicans voted against it because of that provision, they said, which, they claimed, would lead to excessive litigation.

The law was an issue in the 2008 presidential campaign with Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee opposing it.

In response, the administration released yesterday a statement not from itself but from Lilly Ledbetter herself. Ledbetter is the now-retired long-time Goodyear Tire employee after whom the legislation is named.

"I was shocked and disappointed to hear that Mitt Romney is not willing to stand up for women and their families," she said. "If he is truly concerned about women in this economy, he wouldn't have to take time to 'think' about whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Anyone who wants to be president of the United States shouldn't have to think about whether they support pursuing every possible avenue to ensuring women get the same pay for the same work as men," she said.

According to the National Women's Law Center, women are paid, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar paid to men with the gap even worse for women of color - African American women earn only 69 cents and Latina women earn only 59 cents for each dollar earned by males.

Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, restoring the protection against pay discrimination that had been stripped away by an earlier 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court in Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

The act reinstated prior law and makes clear that pay discrimination claims on the basis not only of sex, but also of race, national origin, age, religion and disability "accrue" whenever an employee receives a discriminatory paycheck, as well as when a discriminatory decision or practice is adopted, when a person becomes subject to the decision or practice, or when a person is otherwise effected by the decision or practice. The law is retroactive to May 28, 2007, the day before the court issued its ruling in Ledbetter.

Photo: President Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Bill with Lilly Ledbetter, at center behind Obama, at the White House, Jan. 29, 2009. Ron Edmonds/AP

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  • Here's why Romney refused to back the Ledbetter Act:

    No law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap -, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.... Nor will a "paycheck fairness" law work.

    That's because pay-equity advocates continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women's equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier....” at If indeed more women are staying at home, perhaps it's because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they're going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman. Yet, if "greedy, profit-obsessed" employers could get away with paying women less than men for the same work, they would not hire a man – ever.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Because they're supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home.

    Feminists, government, and the media ignore what this obviously implies: If millions of wives are able to accept no wages and live as well as their husbands, millions of other wives are able to:

    -accept low wages
    -refuse overtime and promotions
    -choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — men tend to do the opposite
    -take more unpaid days off
    -avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (
    -work part-time instead of full-time (“According to a 2009 UK study for the Centre for Policy Studies, only 12 percent of the 4,690 women surveyed wanted to work full time”: See also an Australian report at


    Women are able to make these choices because they are supported — or anticipate being supported — by a husband who must earn more than if he'd chosen never to marry. (Still, even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap. If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.

    Afterword: The power in money is not in earning it (there is only responsibility, sweat, and stress in earning money). The power in money is in SPENDING it. And, Warren Farrell says in The Myth of Male Power at, "Women control consumer spending by a wide margin in virtually every consumer category." (Women's control over spending, adds Farrell, gives women control over TV programs.) "A recent research study revealed that the average woman spends eight years of her life shopping [spending] -- over 300 shopping trips per year. Men, only a fraction of that." -

    Excerpted from "Will the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Help Women?" at

    Posted by Male Matters, 04/13/2012 10:01am (4 years ago)

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