Last night, we were excited to have Lilly Ledbetter on the show. Ledbetter is the living embodiment of equal pay for equal work. She spent her working life as an exemplary staffer in an Alabama Goodyear tire factory, only to discover that for years she’d been paid 40 percent less than her male colleagues.
The U.S. Supreme Court said Ledbetter was entitled to nothing, because she had not filed a complaint within 180 days of the discrimination beginning. She managed to get the change in Congress that she couldn’t in the courts. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law by President Obama.
But equal pay for equal work is not a done deal. In Wisconsin, the Republican legislature has sent Governor Walker a bill that strikes the enforcement from the state’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act. If you read the bill, you’ll see that it’s about deleting; it adds nothing and takes away the protections the state had offered beyond the Lilly Ledbetter law. All it needs now is Scott Walker’s signature.
The lead sponsor of the anti-equal-pay bill is Republican state Senator Glenn Grothman. He’s got another project this session, a bill that blames single parenting for child abuse. His bill (pdf) is not shy about this. Three times in two pages, his bill mandates that informational material from the state shall “emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”
In Wisconsin now, about a third of all parents are single. Mining the 2010 Census, the Williams Institute finds (pdf) that 16 percent of Wisconsin’s same-sex couples are raising kids, and 34 percent of those who identify as spouses though they cannot marry in Wisconsin.
But never mind them. In Senator Grothman’s world, the idea is to make it harder for women and minorities to get fair pay, then cast them as potential child abusers for trying to raise their families in ways that don’t suit his conservative ideals, even if they haven’t got a choice.