Texas GOP struggles with equal pay for equal work

Lily Ledbetter speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, June 5, 2012 in Washington, D.C.
Lily Ledbetter speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, June 5, 2012 in Washington, D.C.
Over the weekend, Cari Christman, the executive director of a political action committee for Texas Republican women, struggled a bit when explaining her party's opposition to pay-equity laws. As Christman argued in a televised interview, women don't need measures like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, largely because "women are extremely busy."
As reports of the comments spread, the executive director of the Texas Republican Party decided to weigh in to help put out the fire. As Laura Bassett reported, this didn't go well, either.

The day after the head of a Texas GOP women's PAC flubbed her answer on equal pay, the executive director of the Texas Republican Party stepped in to explain the GOP's alternative to fair pay legislation. "Men are better negotiators," Beth Cubriel said on YNN's "Capital Tonight." "I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators."

Got that? As the new GOP argument goes, if women in the workplace receive less pay for equal work, the blame rests with ... the women themselves, not their employers.
In case there are any lingering doubts about the merits of Cubriel's suggestion, it's important to note that the problem is not with women's negotiating skills. Often, women don't even know their employers are subjecting them to wage discrimination.
Indeed, conservatives may want to re-familiarize themselves with the basics of Lilly Ledbetter's story -- she was an exemplary staffer at a Goodyear tire factory in Alabama, but after nearly two decades of work, she quietly received a note informing her she'd been paid 40 percent less than her male colleagues.
It was a problem that wasn't going to be solved by becoming a better negotiator,
What's more, let's not lose sight of the larger context here. This has become an issue of late because Greg Abbott, Texas' Republican gubernatorial candidate, has refused to endorse pay-equity measures like the Fair Pay Act. His allies are trying to provide a coherent defense, but apparently they can't think of anything persuasive.
Complicating matters, it's not just Texas.
Laura Bassett also had this report on developments in Minnesota.
A package of bills in Minnesota that would enhance women's economic security by raising the minimum wage, providing paid family and sick leave and addressing the gender pay gap makes women "look like whiners," a state GOP lawmaker said last week.
"We heard several bills last week about women's issues and I kept thinking to myself, these bills are putting us backwards in time," State Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R) told colleagues at a Wednesday hearing on one of the measures. "We are losing the respect that we so dearly want in the workplace by bringing up all these special bills for women and almost making us look like whiners."
So let me get this straight. If women face discrimination in the workplace, this Republican state lawmaker believes they should just accept unequal pay and move on?
If Democrats are extremely lucky, this issue will become increasingly important as the 2014 midterms draw closer.