After Greg Abbott evaded answering a question about whether he would veto an equal pay bill as Governor, following in Rick Perry's footsteps, his campaign has come under fire from the Wendy Davis campaign and progressive groups across the state. In an attempt to smooth things over, Cari Christman, Director of the new Red State Women PAC, appeared on the same television show to talk equal pay.
When asked what the solution is to addressing gender-based wage discrimination in Texas, aside from such policy options as the one written by Wendy Davis and vetoed by Governor Perry, Christman said that women are "extremely busy." Too busy, it seems, for legal processes to address discrimination in their pay. Women in Texas are not too busy for equal pay - but we are far too smart to let Greg Abbott and his cronies talk us out of getting what we deserve.
More on this ridiculous statement and the full video of Christman's response below the jump.
In light of these outlandish statements from Abbott and Christman, many busy women from the frontlines of Texas politics responded.
Rebecca Acuna, spokeswoman for the Davis campaign, said:
These out-of-touch comments from a top Greg Abbott ally are no surprise given that Abbott fought against equal pay for equal work in the courtroom at the same time he accepted a 62% taxpayer funded pay raise for himself. Here's a newsflash for Greg Abbott: women aren't too 'busy' to fight for economic fairness for all hardworking Texans and they aren't too 'busy' to reject his business as usual opposition to equal pay legislation at the polls next November.
Annie's List Executive Director and very busy woman with many endorsed candidates this cycle Grace Garcia responded:
Cari Christman suggested women are too busy to care about being paid fairly. They are not too busy to recognize the importance of being paid equal pay for equal work. The majority of Texans understand that, so I hope RedState Women will side with Texas women on this issue - instead of with Greg Abbott.
Garcia also pointed out that wage discrimination is a reality for women in this state. "Texas women make on average only 82 percent of what Texas men make for the same work," Garcia said. She also agrees with Christman that Texas women want "commonsense solutions." Davis' Texas Fair Pay Act, the legislation in question that started this whole conversation, is exactly one such commonsense policy solution that could have a direct impact on access to equal pay.
The video of Christman's response and a transcript of her confusing answer are below.
Well, if you look at it, women are...are...extremely busy. We lead busy lives whether working professionally, whether we're working from home...and...and...and...times are...are extremely...extremely busy. It's just a busy cycle for women and we've got a lot to juggle and so when we look at this issue we think: what's practical? And...we want more access to jobs. We want...we want to be able to go to...get a higher education degree at the same time that we're working or raising a family. That's commonsense and we believe that that real world solution is a more practical way to approach the problem.
Yes, Texas women certainly want access to gainful employment. But if the current levels of inequality in pay are any evidence, the mere presence of jobs in the state is not enough to guarantee that women will no longer face pay inequality.
Legislation like the Texas Fair Pay Act is necessary in Texas for the exact reasons Christman lists against it. Putting a legal process in place specifically to address pay discrimination in the Texas legal code is practical. It reduces confusion around the differences in federal and state procedures and creates a clear process for women who seek to address this issue in their own lives.
If women are going to face wage discrimination without a clear path to addressing it, juggling a family, a career, and higher education will only be made more difficult. Women in Texas do want to be able to reach for their dreams and achieve their goals, and legislation that helps them fight wage discrimination is a key part of that future. Until then, busy women will be trying to do more as they raise families, go to school, and pursue a professional career, while working with less than their male counterparts for the same jobs.
Women in Texas are busy. They are busy going to school, raising families, working, and trying to do the best they can. In a society where women still do the vast majority of the so-called "second shift" of housework when they get home from their jobs, it is no secret that women have their hands full. Women in Texas shouldn't be punished for being busy by receiving less pay than their male counterparts for the same jobs. And women in Texas can't afford a governor like Greg Abbott, who doesn't understand that we need more than empty rhetoric to fight for equal pay.
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