During the recent debate over the Paycheck Fairness Act, Republican opponents carefully stuck to some specific talking points, intended to sound palatable to the American mainstream. They're against wage discrimination, GOP officials said, and support equal pay for equal work, but don't want to bother "job creators" with pesky measures like these.
In other words, for Republicans, it's not that the pay gap is a good thing, but rather, legislative remedies to address the pay gap are more trouble than they're worth.
As Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch noted yesterday
, however, Phyllis Schlafly, a long-time Republican activist and leader in the religious right movement, is bringing an entirely different perspective to the debate.
Given [her anti-feminist] outlook, it is not surprising that Schlafly opposes things like the Paycheck Fairness Act and efforts to close the gender pay gap, arguing in an op-ed published in The Christian Post that closing the pay gap will actually harm women. As Schlafly sees it, women want to marry a man who makes more money than they do. As such, if women and men make the same amount, then women will be less likely to get married because they will be "unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate." The solution, obviously, is to increase the pay gap so that men will earn more than women so that women, in turn, will have a better opportunity to find husbands.
There was no indication that Schlafly was kidding. On the contrary, she specifically wrote that if the pay gap between men and women were eliminated, "simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate."
And who wants to argue with simple arithmetic?
In Schlafly's vision, women will benefit economically after men get better jobs: "The best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap."
To be sure, Schlafly isn't quite as powerful a political player as she used to be, but it's worth noting that as recently as 2012 -- less than two years ago -- she was a member
of the platform committee at the Republican National Convention.
And speaking of bad arguments against the Paycheck Fairness Act, Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land of Michigan explained
late last week why she would have opposed the measure had she been in the Senate.
"I don't think that's a good idea, so I wouldn't have been supportive." Ms. Land said in an interview Friday evening with The Wall Street Journal. She said she opposed the bill because "that would require that businesses have to post the pay of each individual so it was public…. I don't think you should have to have everyone know what your pay is." The bill contains no such posting provision.
As a rule, when Senate candidates oppose popular legislation, they should try to base their opposition on provisions that actually exist.