I’m not one to chuckle at another person’s public embarrassment, but I can’t help but hand it to Mitt Romney. Rarely has a political candidate managed to single-handedly alienate an entire gender in such a spectacular series of gaffes and SNL-worthy laugh lines. His odd reference to “binders full of women” at the second debate was just his latest failure to understand the challenges we face. Just as hiring women from binders cannot be considered a solution to pay inequities in the workplace, neither can we consider Governor Romney a candidate who takes women’s economic security seriously.
For months, the Romney campaign has been trying to convince the American public that any fuss about “women’s issues” distracts from the “real” issues in this election. It’s almost like they don’t realize that the concept of equal pay for equal work isn’t a matter of principle, but rather economic security.
So, it’s no surprise that in the past couple of weeks, Romney’s campaign has taken two different positions on pay equity. First they said he opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, then they said he had never “weighed in” on it.
As confused as the Romney camp seems to be, one thing is clear: Women can’t trust Mitt Romney. His evident inability to decide whether he opposes gender discrimination would almost be comical if it weren’t so profoundly personal to me and to millions of women and families across the country.
(Credit Image: © Erik Lesser/ZUMA Press)
For 20 years, my family and I suffered the very real economic consequences of gender discrimination in the workplace. I was a manager in a Goodyear tire plant where I was paid less than men who did the same job. My pension and Social Security were based on my unfair salary, so over the course of my career, I was cheated out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. I also worked countless hours of overtime, but the extra pay I earned was based on the same lower pay. The money I should have earned would have gone toward things like my kids' education, my family's medical bills or to support shops and small businesses in my neighborhood. Ultimately, the wage inequity I faced at Goodyear wasn’t just unfair to me; it was unfair to my husband, my kids and my entire community.
By the time I found out about the gender discrimination I’d faced, I was about to retire and the statute of limitations had long since expired. Even though I didn’t get a dime of the money I was shortchanged, I knew that I had to keep fighting back so my daughter and granddaughters would never be subjected to the same type of injustice. I found an ally in President Obama, whose commitment to workplace fairness became self-evident with the very first bill he signed into law. Thanks to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, future generations of women will be able to pursue the judicial recourse I was denied, and I couldn’t be prouder.
Governor Romney’s inability to articulate his stance on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the yet-to-be-passed Paycheck Fairness Act severely undermines any credibility he may claim to have when it comes to economic security for middle-class families.
President Obama knows women have long been breadwinners or co-breadwinners in their homes, and those numbers continue to go up. He also knows that while the bill named after me was a good first step, we need to do more. We need to keep fighting for women and families until the only place a young woman will ever encounter the glass ceiling is in the history books.
So when I step into the voting booth, I’m voting for the President who’s always fought for women, not the politician who hasn’t. We can’t afford to let Romney put equal pay laws in jeopardy –- and you can’t afford to stay home. Make sure you vote and vote early if possible. Just go to vote.BarackObama.com to find out when, where and how to make your voice heard.
More from entertainment