Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why I'm Still Fighting for the Paycheck Fairness Act

It would be an understatement to say that I was excited about the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was up for a cloture vote in the Senate earlier this week.  Part of my job at 9to5 is to help with online social media—twitter and Facebook and such.  Asha, our online organizer, told me to get the word out; I’m not sure if she was expecting me to get the word out quite as enthusiastically as I did.  By the end of the day Tuesday, I was sending a tweet about the PFA every half hour—not because anyone told me to, but because I wanted to.  I blogged about it on the 9to5 website.  I posted Joe Biden’s statement on the PFA as my Facebook status.  Senator Grassley back in Iowa probably thinks I’m stalking him, I left so many messages at his office.

I came to work on Wednesday morning overwhelmingly excited.  I was part of a movement, and it felt great.  To use a phrase we like at 9to5, I owned the PFA.  I’d worked to get it passed, and now I felt like the passage of the PFA was a personal issue.

With a slowly growing sense of uneasiness, I watched the votes roll in.  First Sen. Brown voted nay, then Sen. Snowe, then Sen. Collins.  I sunk a little lower in my seat with each update, but I still held out hope for someone having a last minute change of heart.  Then all the votes were in, and, unbelievably, we’d lost.

This was the first time I’d owned a cause that lost.  I’d certainly cared about outcomes of political fights before, but I’d never felt a loss quite so poignantly and personally.  I have the good fortune to say that all the campaigns I’d been really invested in had been successful, up until this point. The defeat of the PFA brought up a hard question I hadn’t had to face yet: What do you do after you lose?

The answer that I’ve settled on, cliché as it is, is that you keep going, because some things are too important to give up on.  Every week, Jayne and I get phone calls from women whose coworkers honestly believe that women don’t deserve the same respect as men.  Giving up on the fight to show the world that women have earned that respect is too important to be brushed aside by forty-one nay votes.

So I’m looking forward to this next legislative session, in the “bring it on” sense of looking forward to it. Because that’s when we get another chance to convince more people of all genders, citizens and elected officials, that women deserve respect, and they deserve marks of that respect: for example, equal pay.  Everyone deserves to be shown their inherent human worth.

In the meantime, I will be writing a stern memo to my senator, Mr. Grassley. I encourage you to do the same to yours.

By Beth Miller, Lutheran Volunteer

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