Almost 50 years have passed since Congress passed the Equal Pay Act and it became the law of the land. Today, we mark Equal Pay Day, the annual date on when we call attention to the persistent wage gap between women and men – women earn 77 cents to the dollar as compared to men. The gap throttles women’s ability to earn equal compensation for the same work performed by men and has a critical impact on women and families.
We have said it before, and it is worth repeating: ALL women are paid less than men, and women of color make even less. Compared to every dollar made by white, non-Hispanic men, African-American women make only 64 cents and Hispanic women make only 55 cents. Lesbian women bear an even greater economic burden. According to the Williams Institute, women in same-sex couples have a median personal income of $38,000 compared to $47,000 for men in same-sex couples.
The Task Force’s groundbreaking report on transgender discrimination, Injustice at Every Turn, reported high rates of extreme poverty; respondents were nearly four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000 a year compared to the general population. Wage discrimination for women and those who live at the intersections of race, sexual orientation and gender identity must end. The compounding impact of earning less throughout their lifetime leaves women more vulnerable as they age, with less economic security this in the face of recent threats to Social Security benefits. There is no justification for paying women less than men for comparable work. The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84/H.R. 377), is legislation that would close the gaps within the nearly 50-year-old Equal Pay Act. Congress should act on this legislation and end this discrimination once and for all.