A Bad Day For Equal Pay: Rick Perry’s Snub + Miss Utah’s Flub

A Bad Day For Equal Pay: Rick Perry’s Snub + Miss Utah’s Flub

[This article was orginally written for LadyClever.com.] Women currently earn only 77 cents for each dollar a man earns for the same work. And it often doesn’t feel like enough women are sufficiently enraged by that income disparity between the sexes in the U.S.

For example, while civil rights leader and Texas  Rep. Senfronia Thompson  toiled toward pay equality in her state only to see the  proposed legislation shot down, Miss Utah managed to pageant wave away her embarrassingly nonsensical statement on equal pay and still  somehow “earn” third runner up and the Miss Photogenic USA award.

Forty-two states honor equal pay laws similar to the bill that Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed last week, aimed at preventing gender-based wage discrimination against working women.

“Women will still have to struggle to receive their equal pay for their equal work,” Rep. Senfronia Thompson, author of the Texas equal pay bill HB 950

Rep. Thompson, who has been elected to twenty terms in office, proposed a bill that was set to align Texas state law with the federal Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, passed late this spring to make it easier for women to sue employers over wage discrimination.  Thompson said she was “deeply disappointed” and “heartbroken” to learn of the governor’s decision. Perry said he exercised his veto because the bill could lead to more regulations and hurt job creation, and ”duplicates federal law, which already allows employees who feel they have been discriminated against through compensation to file a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

“But the backers of HB 950,” the Huffington Post notes, “have pointed out that their legislation would allow parties to proceed on cases in a nearby state court, instead of having the increased expense of having to go to federal court. Lilly Ledbetter protections also do not always apply to certain state cases.”

At the Miss USA pageant two days later, Miss Utah Marissa Powell was fielded what seems like the usual softball pitch politics question: “A recent report shows that in 40% of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?”  She replied:

“I think we can relate this back to education and how we are continuing to try to strive to (pause) figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem and I think, especially the men, are um, seen as the leaders of this and so we need to try and figure out how to create education better so we can solve this problem.”

MSNBC Money blogger Kim Peterson shrugged, called it an unfair question, and summed up her feelings about the poor pretty girl’s dilemma by saying she agreed with former broker and MSNBC financial contributor Josh Brown‘s tweet:

Though hopefully a joke, it strikes a chord with me that a female blogger would perpetuate the suggestion that this beautiful young women should resign to merely being a bobble-headed tiara rest and not bother to fill her pretty little head with an iota of knowledge.

When women with a voice, like both the pageant participant and the blogger, don’t take the income disparity seriously and a respected female politician can’t get legislation passed thanks to the male  who holds the stamp of approval, how can women expect to get ahead financially in our culture? Lest we forget, by “get ahead”, I mean catch up.  – Casandra Armour

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