Mr. President, Walk With Us On Our Journey for Equal Pay

Today, the ACLU joined over 100 organizations to send a letter to President Obama asking for executive action to combat pay discrimination.

For far too long, equal pay has been out of reach for many women as a result of workplace discrimination. We know that President Obama agrees, because he made the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act the first bill he signed into law and has repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would repair loopholes that, over the last half century, have weakened the Equal Pay Act of 1963—the legislation that President John F. Kennedy hoped would be a first step towards securing equal pay for equal work. Sadly, half a century later, we have many more steps to take before President Kennedy's vision is fulfilled: women still earn, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. And women of color take home even less.

As President Obama told the entire nation in his second inaugural address, "our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts." There's no question that passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act will help to achieve that goal, but until that happens, we urge this Administration to do everything in its power to immediately provide women with the tools they need to learn about and fight discrimination in the workplace.

With Equal Pay Day coming up on April 9, we've asked the President to take immediate action to ensure equal pay, even as he continues to champion the Paycheck Fairness Act. Specifically, we are calling on the President to issue an executive order that would prohibit retaliation against employees of federal contractors for discussing or inquiring about their wages.

With the stroke of a pen, such an executive order would immediately protect the 26 million Americans who work for federal contractors—roughly 20% of the American workforce. We're also asking the Department of Labor to finalize its compensation data collection tool in order to collect employment data that will help to highlight disparities and indicate where possible discrimination exists.

The journey for pay equity is a long one—as the last half century has shown—but we ask President Obama to take the next step with us.

Learn more about paycheck fairness and other civil liberty issues: Sign up for breaking news alertsfollow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Add a comment (1)
Read the Terms of Use

Male Matters

“In 2011, 22% of male physicians and 44% of female physicians worked less than full time, up from 7% of men and 29% of women from Cejka’s 2005 survey.”

Mind you, these are some of the most sophisticated, educated women in the country CHOOSING to earn less than their male counterparts in the exact same profession.

A thousand laws won't close that gap.

In fact, no law yet has closed the gender wage gap — not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not affirmative action (which has benefited mostly white women, the group most vocal about the wage gap -, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not the 1991 Glass Ceiling Commission created by the Civil Rights Act, not the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, not diversity, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the thousands of company mentors for women, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.... Nor will a "paycheck fairness" law work.

That's because women's pay-equity advocates, who always insist one more law is needed, continue to overlook the effects of female AND male behavior:

Despite the 40-year-old demand for women's equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years,” he says in a CNN report at, “many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.” (“Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier....” at If indeed a higher percentage of women is staying at home, perhaps it's because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs — so why bother working if they're going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Answer: Because they're supported by their husband, an “employer” who pays them to stay at home. (Far more wives are supported by a spouse than are husbands.)

The implication of this is probably obvious to most 12-year-olds but seems incomprehensible to or is ignored by feminists and the liberal media: If millions of wives are able to accept NO wages, millions of other wives, whose husbands' incomes vary, are more often able than husbands to:

-accept low wages
-refuse overtime and promotions
-choose jobs based on interest first, wages second — the reverse of what men tend to do
-take more unpaid days off
-avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (
-work fewer hours than their male counterparts, or work less than full-time instead of full-time (as in the above example regarding physicians)

Any one of these job choices lowers women's median pay relative to men's. And when a wife makes one of the choices, her husband often must take up the slack, thereby increasing HIS pay.

Women are able to make these choices because they are supported — or, if unmarried, anticipate being supported — by a husband who must earn more than if he'd chosen never to marry. (Still, even many men who shun marriage, unlike their female counterparts, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap: as a group they tend more than women to pass up jobs that interest them for ones that pay well.

Note: To my knowledge, unemployed stay-at-home wives are not factored into women's average wage. Shouldn't they be? Since they voluntarily work for zero wages, factoring them in -- assigning each of them zero earnings -- would perhaps give a more realistic measure of women's average wage.

Much more in "Will the Ledbetter Act Help Women?" at

Sign Up for Breaking News