Ladies' Choice: TN Legislator Blames Women For Wage Gap

Clemmons sponsored, "Tennessee Pay Equality Act" fails, and women's choices are to blame for pay gap.
Clemmons sponsored, "Tennessee Pay Equality Act" fails, and women's choices are to blame for pay gap.

It’s 2016. Two thousand and sixteen.

Twenty freaking sixteen, and the struggle for equal pay is still one we’re fighting in Tennessee — despite the fact that a vast majority of Tennesseans support the idea of equal pay.

If the majority support it, then why is there a fight? The legislation should follow the wishes of the people, right?


Our current legislation is so far removed from real life in Tennessee, they VOTED DOWN an Equal Pay bill and CUT FUNDING to the now defunct Economic Council for Women — a group created in 1998 to “to address the economic needs of Tennessee women,” (their website).

According to Nashville Public Radio, Rep. Susan Lynn said the Equal Pay bill wasn’t needed because of the, “Lifestyle choices” women make to have families. (I encourage you to watch the video for yourself and see of the bill’s proposal. Click on HB1947. ) Not only does Rep. Lynn unfairly blame Rep. John Ray Clemmons for sponsoring the bill only to increase his law-office clientele, she also calls herself a, “perfect example” of why women make less — because, you know, BABIES!

Yeah. You read that right. Committee chair, Susan Lynn — who identifies as a female — voted down the Tennessee Pay Equality Act, and blame shifted all pay-scale discrepancies onto the women themselves because of their ability to make babies.

Lynn’s challenger this election is Democrat, Trisha Farmer.

When asked about Lynn’s statement on lifestyle choices, Farmer had this to say, “Equal pay isn’t about having children. That argument ignores the fact that women have these pay gaps even if they are childless. Women make up half the breadwinners in the state. The failure to pass the Tennessee Equal Pay Act hurts working families.”

It is almost mind boggling that a female identifying state representative could be against equal pay for women, especially when so many of her constituents support the issue.

The answer may lie in endorsements and campaign contributions, specifically those from the National Federation of Independent business — NFIB.

NFIB touts itself as an organization that represents the concerns of small business, but is in reality a, front group for big business with ties to the Koch Brothers. Their own website lauded the Lawmakers’ smack down of Equal Pay, and they have contributed thousands to Tennessee legislators.

One such lawmaker, Rep. Pat Marsh of Shelbyville, TN, has not only been endorsed by NFIB, but has been the recipient of an actual award for his voting consistency. I think we should all take a moment to send him our congratulations for his award winning consistency to a group that OPPOSES EQUAL PAY.

An article in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette covered Marsh's award. I particularly like the line from Jim Brown of the NFIB, "[Brown] praised Marsh, who chairs the House Business and Utilities Committee, for his support of NFIB, saying that of 14 key votes related to small business in the General Assembly over the past two years, "He was with us every time."

Well, bully for Marsh. #YouCanSeeWhyIAmRunningAgainstHim

While legislators are receiving awards and thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, Women in Tennessee are paid less than their male co-workers. Women are underrepresented in high-wage jobs and overrepresented in low-wage jobs. Women of color make even less than their white female counterparts. Don’t believe me? Click here.

I'm not going to mince words here. It's time to end these political games and replace career politicians who kow-tow to PACs and corporate greed over the people of Tennessee.

It’s time for a change. If you think women deserve equal pay, then Register to Vote, and make sure you vote this November. Make your voice heard in the State legislature! Local elections are won by the smallest of margins, and you can be that difference!

For more information about Sharon Kay Edwards, visit her Facebook or website.