Yesterday, the State Senate finally passed the Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which will give Texas women the right going forward to seek redress for gender-based pay discrimination. The bill's next stop is the desk of Governor Rick Perry.
This is a milestone and a significant achievement for State Representative Senfronia Thompson, who introduced HB 950, and Senator Wendy Davis, who have championed this issue.
Also deserving of thanks are the bill's additional authors in the State House, Democrats Nicole Collier and Carol Alvarado, and Republicans Sarah Davis and Jason Isaac. (Credit where due, y'all.)
This is a major economic issue for Texas: if working women are paid less than men for the same day's labor, then they're being denied the economic opportunity to fully participate in society that they've earned. If working mothers are shortchanged on their paychecks, it hurts the entire family — and Texas school children have suffered enough at the hands of the Republican Legislature as it is.
However, the bill didn't pass unanimously in either chamber — far from it. The Senate gave the bill a narrow 16-15 victory, and in the House the margin was 70-65 on second reading, 79-50 on third reading.
Click below the jump to find out which Republicans — and which Republican women, for crying out loud — don't think women deserve redress for pay discrimination in Texas.Lest we forget, there's a need for this bill here in Texas, because there is gender-based pay discrimination here in Texas.
As Emily Cadik has written previously, here in Texas women make 82 cents on the dollar compared to men, which gives Texas the twelfth-lowest wage gap in the country, even with women's work equal to four-fifths of that of men. Nationwide, women still make only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. Over the course of a woman's career, that amounts to $430,000 in lost wages.The pay gap is even worse for women of color and in female-dominated industries.
But hey, that's no problem for Republicans, who comprised every single no vote against this bill. “What 'War on Women'?” conservatives cry with feigned outrage. The answer in this case is pretty damn clear: “the one y'all tried to wage on our wallets!”
Here's a chart showing the vote to suspend the rules and vote for final passage in the Senate, and a list of who voted against the bill in the House.
|Roll Call Votes on HB 950, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act|
Third Reading, Vote to Suspend The Rules: 21-10
Third Reading, Record Vote on HB 950: 16-15*
Nays: Birdwell, Carona, Estes, Fraser, Hancock, Hager, Huffman, Nelson, Nichols, Patrick, Paxton, Schwertner, Seliger, Taylor, Williams
Second Reading (Passes, 70-65)
Third Reading (Passes, 79-50
If your Senator or Representative is among the “Nay” votes, give them a call and ask them why women don't deserve to seek legal redress for gender-based pay discrimination.
What's most appalling to me is the number of Republican women who voted against letting other women address gender-based pay discrimination. Jane Nelson, Joan Huffman, Cindy Burkett, Stefani Carter, Angie Chen Button, Myra Crownover, Marsha Farney, Susan King, Stephanie Klick, Lois Kolkhorst, Jodie Laubenberg, and Geanie Morrison — what the heck is wrong with you?! Do you really not recognize that women are paid less than men? Have y'all had such rarefied or willfully ignorant experiences that you don't realize the need for this legislation? (I don't understand the pathology of women who vote Republican anyways, but this seems like an extra dose of Stockholm syndrome here.)
When conservative Republican men can vote for this bill — whether for craven political reasons or out of a genuine concern for economic fairness, on some levels it matters not, seeing as the bill passed — and a bunch of professional, successful women serving in our Legislature cannot, these women need to reevaluate their decision-making criteria.
The worst part in their votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is that when women don't stand up and stand together against sex- and gender-based discrimination, it weakens the cause for all of us.
Much like the Violence Against Women Act or funding rape kit testing or protecting birth control access and reproductive rights, this should not be a partisan issue. Shame on those women who voted against sticking up for other women, and failing to represent the needs of the women who are among their constituents.
Over on the Senate side, typing this may make my laptop implode, but Senator Donna Campbell deserves great praise for voting in favor of allowing women to seek redress for pay discrimination.
If her proverbial stopped clock is going to be right twice a day, at least the hands landed on fair pay for women. Kudos also to Sens. Deuell, Duncan, and Eltife for voting for this as well. Deuell attached an amendment that weakens the bill by preventing retroactive pay discrimination suits, but still, it passed, and a step forward for women's economic justice is a step forward for all Texans.
Now the big question is whether Governor Rick Perry will sign the bill. His misguided presidential aspirations may be a factor here, but let me make one thing clear: voters understand this issue. Women understand this issue, and there's no way any Republican can peel off moderates and sufficient women to win a national general election with a history of standing up for sex-based pay discrimination.
As for the Nay voters, especially those female Republicans, I'm left thinking about a specific quote from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:
“There is a special place in Hell for women who don't help other women.”
* Twitter reported the final passage as 17-14, but when I called the Senate Journal they had a final record vote of 16-15. Record vote was not available online at time of publication. We will update if necessary.