It’s time to speak up.
I’m writing to ask you to stand up to your fellow Republicans, show you’re worthy of the leadership you’re asking the American people to entrust you with, and let us know where you stand on legislation that will help finally make pay equity a reality.
I’m writing you directly because so far, your leadership has been so lacking that it appears those closest to you don’t know where you stand, either.
In April, your advisers were asked whether you support the law that bears my name and empowers women to fight back when we’re cheated out of equal pay. They responded with silence.
In May, the Washington Times asked your campaign five times whether you support the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that goes further to ensure equal pay for equal work. Again, silence.
Now, in June, as Washington Republicans continue to oppose this common-sense law, you continue to hide.
Your campaign will say only that you support the concept of pay equity, but that you wouldn’t change any laws to actually enforce it. That’s like saying you’re for staying dry but wouldn’t use an umbrella in a rainstorm. Women are getting soaked, Governor Romney, and staying silent when a solution is at hand isn’t leadership—it’s an insult and a cop-out.
If the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a step in the right direction, the Paycheck Fairness Act is a giant leap forward. The first gave us recourse to sue no matter when we learn that we’ve been paid unfairly—a right we often didn’t have until President Obama made it the first bill he signed. The second will make it easier for women to learn if they’re being discriminated against in the first place. It gives businesses incentives to do what’s right and protects workers from being fired for sharing information about their pay. It closes loopholes and makes discrimination harder to hide, which makes it harder to commit.
You talk often about your unique understanding of the economy. I’m troubled, though, that you don’t seem to understand the consequences of pay inequality. It’s not just about a paycheck and it’s not just a women’s issue—it’s a family issue. Women make just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, which adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost earnings over years of hard work. More women are becoming breadwinners in their families, and unjustly lower wages mean we have less to spend in our communities to support the economy. The overtime pay, Social Security, and pensions we earn are based on our wages, so unfair pay today hurts us now and weakens our retirement security later. I learned that lesson the hard way.
It’s 2012. Women are not worth less than men, and no one should get paid less for doing the same job just because she is a woman.
Will you stand up for women, stand up to your fellow Republicans and stand on the right side of history? Will you finally say aloud that you support efforts to stop pay discrimination before it starts? We’re listening.