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Fair Pay and Other Critical Issues Impacting Families Must Be Top Priority for Congress

Last week, I proudly joined my colleagues in reintroducing two critical proposals that impact all of us – our families, our economy, and the safety and prosperity of our communities.

Last week, I proudly joined my colleagues in reintroducing two bills that aim to reduce violence against and provide fair pay for women and families across our area and country. Often labeled as “women’s issues,” these critical proposals impact all of us – our families, our economy, and the safety and prosperity of our communities.

January marked the beginning of a new Congress, one that I hope differs from the last, with a serious effort by both parties to pass these bills, the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), and many others.

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

Since it was first signed into law by President Clinton in 1994, VAWA programs have improved the national response to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Through the provision of critical services, as well as engaging communities, VAWA reduced the incidence of domestic violence by more than 50 percent since becoming law. Ultimately, it has brought domestic abuse out of the shadows and protected millions of women across the country. 

Recognizing the importance of the law, Senate Democrats and Republicans last year joined to pass a bipartisan reauthorization of VAWA. However, Republican leadership in the House refused to bring the bill to the floor, meaning that VAWA failed to pass the last Congress.

On Jan. 22, I joined legislation introduced by Rep. Gwen Moore and Rep. John Conyers, among others, to reauthorize VAWA. In the new Congress, there’s no reason to wait or to waste time: Democrats and Republicans must come together to ensure that victims of domestic violence are kept safe and perpetrators are held accountable.

The Paycheck Fairness Act

In his second inaugural address, President Obama stated that our “journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.” The Paycheck Fairness Act, of which I am also a co-sponsor, is an important part of this journey.

American women, on average, earn 77 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts. Census Data shows that over an average woman’s working life this disparity will add up to a difference of $434,000, compared with male counterparts.  

The Boston Globe recently highlighted that Massachusetts ranks behind every other New England state when it comes to pay equality. You can see a more complete review by state and congressional  district through a report compiled by the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Since 2007, I, along with my Democratic colleagues in Congress, have fought to rectify the Supreme Court’s decision against Lilly Ledbetter and working women who face pay discrimination in the workplace. Four years ago this month, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that allowed women to sue discriminatory employers. However, the fight for pay equality must continue. 

Introduced into Congress last week, the Paycheck Fairness Act aims to close the pay gap by compelling employers to show that pay disparity relates to job performance – not gender. The Act also prevents employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay arrangements with co-workers.  

Importantly, two thirds of women in this country are breadwinners for their families, meaning that pay inequality not only affects women, but also children and families. 

I am proud to co-sponsor both the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and Paycheck Fairness Act. Both bills are critical not only to ensuring equality for women in the home and workplace, but also in providing fairer outcomes for children and families across the United States.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

David Arsenault February 16, 2013 at 09:42 AM
http://www.facebook.com/mahealthyworkplace
MikeAaa February 19, 2013 at 06:28 PM
He did not know what his wife was doing. Do you always know where your wife is going when she goes shopping. I don't.
MikeA February 19, 2013 at 07:01 PM
"many imitators but no equals ..."
Bob February 19, 2013 at 07:23 PM
I do if she and her brother pay for a Caribbean vacation for me!
Diane Lee February 19, 2013 at 08:59 PM
wasn't there all ready an act to make equal pay for men and women. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 signed by JFK. I never have felt like I was paid less for my job because I am a woman. Being a corporate account for the past 25 I have add access to payroll information, so I know what many of my co workerhs have made. In most work places it is against company policy to discuss salaries, but I'm sure most people discuss it. I never discuss my salary or financial situation with friends or coworkers, it is none of their business and I could care less what others make.

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