Just one day after President Obama commemorated Equal Pay Day by signing two executive orders designed to eliminate wage disparity between men and women, Senate Republicans have unanimously blocked a bill that would have turned those orders into laws. Republicans love you, ladies. They love you like Courtney Stodden's creepy old and maybe-gay husband loved Courtney Stodden.
The death (for now) of the Paycheck Fairness Act isn't exactly surprising, but it is disappointing. The act would have banned businesses from penalizing employees who share wage information and subjected businesses to stricter guidelines regarding what is and isn't a fair reason for a company to pay a male employee more than a female one for the same job. As Think Progress pointed out, Republicans have all sorts of argle bargle reasons for not supporting any sort of codified paycheck fairness, ranging from "it will just lead to more lawsuits" to "the pay gap isn't really a thing." Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took a break from shooting creepy SuperPAC B-Roll to dismiss equal pay as the left's most recent "obsession" and Equal Pay Day as akin to "blowing kisses" to the Democratic voting base.
And, to an extent, Republicans are right about one thing. If you're a woman who fits into a very specific socioeconomic profile (white, young, college educated), the pay gap almost disappears. If you're a woman of color or a member of the LGBTQ community, however, you're still getting the shaft. According to the National Women's Law Center, black women make 80 cents to every dollar that a white woman earns, and Hispanic women make only 70 cents to every dollar earned by a white woman. While 100% of the pay gap can't be explained as a function of discrimination, making it more difficult for employers to discriminate on employees based on sex will help people interested in closing the gap further zero in on what can be done to lift women of all races/backgrounds/colors/etc. Plus, you know, it shouldn't be okay for companies to discriminate against employees based on anything besides merit.
The conspiracy theorist "House of Cards" addled cynic in me wonders if this is part of a larger campaign to convince educated, married, or otherwise economically privileged white women to abandon giving a shit about single women, young women, and women of color and just jump on the I've Got Mine So Fuck You GOP train. Amanda Marcotte has suggested something similar, that the right wing's "outreach" to women is actually only outreach to a certain kind of woman (the married lady), since they have proven in recent elections that they can successfully pit them against less privileged women (in the hotly contested Virginia gubernatorial race in 2013, for example, ultimate loser Ken Cuccinelli beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe by seven points. That's not nothing). Republicans are counting on married white ladies to agree with them. They literally could not give a shit about the women whose lives are most adversely affected by paycheck disparity.
Married women vs. Single women. This would be an excellent season of Survivor if it didn't threaten to negatively impact so many women's actual lives.
Image via Getty