In the past, feminists have had discussions about whether it is against feminism to oppose women who are against feminist policy. There are some out there who think that a feminist approach is to support any woman in leadership—let’s say Sarah Palin—no matter how much they want to destroy the rights of women.
I’m one of those feminists who think that support should go to those who want to create equality between males and females. That means that I don’t support Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). The country has been in a buzz after she was the first senator north of Virginia to vote against background checks. But that’s not my gripe today although I haven’t forgiven her vote on that issue either.
With women making 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man, some Congressional lawmakers support the an equal pay act that would try to rectify this inequality. But not Kelly Ayotte. During one of her town hall meetings during this week’s recess, she flatly stated that Congress had done enough for equal pay for the two genders. As everyone who dodges voting yes on laws, she used the tired excuse that government just needs to enforce existing laws.
A member of the audience asked Ayotte the following:
“My grandmother, who was an extremely intelligent woman, trained many, many men who then became her boss, and so on and so forth. [She] never received a pension, never, um, was really paid what she was worth. And I was disappointed that you voted against the Equal Pay Act, but maybe there was something in the bill that you thought would be detrimental to the economy or whatever. But I was curious if you could explain your philosophy about equal pay and how, maybe, you could suggest something that we could all agree upon so that women would stop making 75 cents for every dollar a man makes …”
“We have existing laws — Title VII, um, Lilly Ledbetter, all those existing protections in place — that, I believe, enforce and provide that people doing equal jobs are, certainly in this country, should receive equal pay. So, uh, that bill, in my view, didn’t add — in fact I think it created a lot of additional burdens that would have been hard, um, to make it more difficult for job creators to create jobs… The reason that I voted against that specific bill is that, I looked at it, and there were already existing laws that need to be enforced and can be enforced and I didn’t feel like adding that layer was going to help us better get at the equal pay issue.”
Ayotte ignored the fact that the pay gap exists because lawmakers are trying to close it. It is true that the pay gap narrowed after the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but progress on the pay gap stalled in the 1990s. It’s been almost flat since then.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was necessary because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that removed earlier protections in connection with pay inequity. It’s different from the Paycheck Fairness Act. Ayotte didn’t address the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would definitely not “make it more difficult for job creators to create jobs,” as she suggests.
Because employers can avoid liability under the Equal Pay Act, there is a need to ensure that employers’ pay decisions have legitimate reasons to pay one employee more than another, such as “education, training, or experience,” instead of arbitrary justification. The Act also forbids employers from retaliation against employees who try to find out how their pay compares to wages that their colleagues get.
Ayotte supported employers’ rights to not have rational reasons for paying female workers less. She gave employers the right to retaliate against employees who try to find out if they are being fairly treated.
Ayotte is still struggling with justifying her vote against a background check for people buying guns. The Manchin-Toomey background check proposal would not have created a national firearms registry. It actually would have strengthened current law barring the creation of any such registry and stiffened penalties against any official who violated or tried to violate the prohibition. But Ayotte seems to know as little about the bill she voted against as she does about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This is the reason that she gave for voting against background checks:
“I will tell you in terms of a universal background check, as it’s been framed, I have a lot of concerns about that leading to a registry that will lead to a privacy situation for lawful firearms owners.”
New Hampshire voters are not happy with Ayotte. When a man in a town hall meeting asked her why she voted against background checks, several of the 250 people in the audience applauded.
In Arizona, Sen. Jeff Flake (R) is still struggling with the response to his voting against the background check. First, he said the polls went down after his vote because of the polls were wrong, and then the next day he said that he just looked like “pond scum.” Yesterday on an interview on KJZZ radio, he switched back to blaming the polls for making him look unpopular:
“There was a famous PPP poll just a couple of days ago that — the five Republicans who voted against this, you know, supposedly our poll number have dropped dramatically. And I’ve no doubt they have because of the way the poll is structured. It said, I believe, ‘Do you believe that Jeff Flake voted against background checks?’ Now somebody who got that poll could just as easily assume that I voted to repeal current background checks. And so background checks are popular, but I believe that people recognize that universal background checks, that’s a little more difficult thing to define.”
He tried the optimistic approach when he said, “I think in the end, people understand that you’re there, you read the legislation, you try to make the situation better.”
For the record, the PPP poll asked, “Does Jeff Flake’s vote against requiring background checks make you more or less likely to support him for re-election, or does it not make a difference?” Nineteen percent of respondents answered “more likely,” 52 percent said “less likely” and 24 percent said “no difference.”
So Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) think that we don’t need to make any laws about guns because criminals won’t respect them, and Ayotte thinks that we already have enough laws to protect people in guns and fair pay. They should give their salary (equal between the males and females) back to the government and go back to their home states. They should let people who want to legislate laws stay in Washington to do that.