Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen coudn’t have done more for the women’s movement than her thoughtless comment earlier this month that Anne Romney “never worked a day in her life.”
The resulting backlash stirred up a storm of public dialog on women’s issues unparalled in recent memory — and resulted in an onslaught of recognition for Equal Pay Day, which is being celebrated today. The day is meant to spur public awareness of a gender gap in earnings that had women working until April 17 this year to equal what men earned in 2011.
Politicians jumped on the feminist bandwagon with one notable exception: former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra who stumbled into a sticky wicket in Royal Oak last week with an off-handed comment that the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, signed into law in 2009 by President Barack Obama, is “a nuissance.”
Hoekstra, who will challenge U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in November, voted no on the bill, which gives women more ways to win equal pay in court.
Obama and Gov. Rick Snyder both issued statements Tuesday calling for gender equality in the workplace, and a number of groups rallied on the Capitol lawn in Lansing, calling on lawmakers to pass bills guaranteeing women equal pay for equal work.
Federal figures show women in 2010 made about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and we can thank Rosen’s ill-intentioned comment in the run-up to Equal Pay Day for drawing attention to that fact.