Equal Pay Should Be For All
November 1. Mark your calendars. On that day, Latina women will have earned for the whole of 2017 and up to November 1 of this year what their white male counterparts earned in 2017 alone. Twenty-two months of work versus twelve months for the same pay. It’s pretty shocking.
Latina women, on average, earn fifty-four cents for each dollar a white male earns. In 1960, the gender pay gap concluded that women made forty cents less on the dollar than men. Latina women today still make less than that. African American women, on the other hand, earn sixty-three cents on the dollar, celebrating their pay gap date of August 7.
Or, they can all join with their Caucasian and Asian sisters and party on April 10, because that’s when women as a group average earn 79 cents to the white male dollar.
And you, readers, could shrug, think this doesn’t concern you, but you shouldn’t. It concerns us all, LGBT and even our allies.
Let’s start with the obvious. The first letter in our LGBTQ+ involves a lot of underpaid women. The B’s and the T’s also can claim their fair share. But it’s actually bigger than this.
If you haven’t enough money, you haven’t enough power, and you are living subject to laws which are not enacted with your representation at the table.
And gay people have an even more complicated history within this dilemma. We also have the Myth of Gay Affluence negating the gay pay gap. This myth runs so deep, Justice Antonin Scalia even references it in his dissent to Romer v. Evans—a landmark 1996 case overturning a Colorado state constitutional amendment prohibiting legal protections for gays and lesbians.
He wrote “Those who engage in homosexual conduct tend to reside in disproportionate numbers in certain communities,” have “high disposable income,” giving them “disproportionate political power… to [achieve] not merely a grudging social toleration, but full social acceptance, of homosexuality.”
Ah. If only he was right. And while a weekend spent partying in Rehoboth Beach might leave one feeling a part of this Gay affluence, the truth is much more sobering.
A great deal of our presumed “affluence” came from polling “Out” LGBTQ+ people. And in order to find them, pollsters went to meccas located in NYC, and the Castro, and other fairly wealthy, reasonably safe, enclaves.
But a funny thing happened on the way to counting the money. Ellen came out. Gay people across America slowly joined her. And lo and behold, there were way less affluent gay couples tucked away in Alabama and Arkansas and Alaska, and lots of other states that don’t even begin with “A.”
And with more of America counting, all of a sudden, even the white gay male earnings weren’t exactly on par with their heterosexual counterparts.
Also, it is estimated that one third of transgender people live below the poverty level, and many say those stats are generous.
As for equal pay for all, the World Economic Forum is estimating it will take one hundred years to achieve parity. One. Hundred. Years.
And some of this is because we are caught in a vicious fear cycle. Women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks are afraid to ask for raises. Afraid of being perceived as a problem. We are afraid of asking for promotions for fear of being further removed from a chance at progress.
We need to stop being afraid. And we need to start supporting our right to be equals at every table. Take the #MeToo movement, it’s all about power. From Congressmen to movie moguls, an avalanche of abuse and hurt and pain was hurled from the souls of victims out to the public. #MeToo is an outcome of this unequal, unregulated playing field.
Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, our Delaware representative to the U.S. House of Representatives, was just in Rehoboth for Women’s FEST and gave an enormously dynamic speech. She told us she always carries a scarf with her, printed with a Reconstruction Era voter registration card belonging to her ancestor who had been a slave.
She represents me, because she knows what inequity looks like. She knows what inequity tastes like. And she knows what inequity spends like.
So let’s work to close the pay gap, which will bring us power. It will let us make the laws and set our government to represent us all. ▼
Stefani Deoul is a television producer and the author of the award-winning YA mystery novel On a LARP from Bywater Books. Contact Stefani.