Ledbetter Visit Highlights the Need for Continued Leadership on Equal Pay

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Chester County Democratic Women’s Leadership Initiative’s Fall Gala with Lilly Ledbetter. Meeting Ms. Ledbetter and hearing her inspirational story about her fight against Goodyear for fair compensation and the creation of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a true honor. Her visit also highlighted the fact that the fight for equal pay for equal work is far from over.

I support equal pay for equal work. The pay disparity between men and women is a national disgrace, as is the fact that this is still a political issue at all, much less a contentious one.

I served in the Army to uphold and protect the fundamental American values of fairness and equality of opportunity. Pay inequality itself, along with the unwillingness to take decisive action to address this issue, is an affront to those values.

As the father of two daughters, pay inequality makes me concerned for their future. I know that my daughters are as smart, strong and capable as anyone, and I want to know that they will be fairly and equally compensated when they grow up and build careers, families and lives of their own.

In Congress, I will be an outspoken advocate for equal pay. I will do this because it is the right thing to do and because it is the American thing to do. I will do it because I want to fight for my daughters and for your daughters. This is the very least we should expect out of our elected representatives.

According to the Department of Labor, in 2015, full time working women made up almost 47% of America’s workforce, yet they received only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21%. As you read this, the Paycheck Fairness Act has been introduced in both the House and the Senate. Unfortunately, it appears that standing up for an idea as fundamentally American as equal pay is somehow a partisan political issue.

The House version of the bill currently has 193 co-sponsors, but my opponent, Ryan Costello is not among them. In fact, only one co-sponsor out of the 193 is a Republican. This demonstrates that many of our elected representatives, like my opponent, are blinded by partisanship and out of touch with the people they represent.

How Mr. Costello can claim to be bi-partisan, independent, and to represent the values of our community, yet fail to lead in supporting equal pay for our wives, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters and neighbors defies rational explanation. Sadly, he is once again playing follow the leader and falling in behind his party bosses. He has done this time and again, including when he decided to put party before country by blindly supporting Donald Trump.

The partisan talking points that this legislation is somehow unnecessary simply don’t hold up. The Paycheck Fairness Act would introduce greater transparency and accountability into pay practices to ensure that employers are not discriminating on the basis of gender, and increase the ability to enforce the existing laws that forbid such inequality.

Pay equality has been the law of the land since 1963, because this is an issue on which the vast majority of Americans have agreed for generations. Taking steps to make that law enforceable is simple common sense. In our military, our officers and enlisted members are paid based up their rank and time in service without consideration of race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender. This is the way that people should be compensated, fairly and equally.

In Congress, I will continue my commitment to serve our community, our country and the American people by proudly and vigorously supporting equal pay. I will do this to pave the way to the brighter future my daughters and all American women deserve. My opponent’s failure to lead on this issue is an embarrassment to all of us. We can do better.

-Mike Parrish, Malvern