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Lilly Ledbetter Act important to nation

The first bill that President Barack Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. What does this mean to women voters?

It all started with a 2007 Supreme Court Decision in the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. involving the statute of limitations for bringing suit over discriminatory wages.

The court held that the clock started ticking with the first unfair paycheck—meaning that often, by the time a worker discovered that an inequity existed, the statute of limitations had already run out.

The Lilly Ledbetter Act amended the law to state that the clock resets with every new instance of an unfair paycheck, thus giving workers a fair chance to contest the inequity.

Therefore, as soon as a worker discovers that she’s getting $8 an hour for the same job for which her male coworkers are getting $10 an hour, she can do something about it and ask the courts to make her employer play fair.

I remember when I was younger and a lot of people were against the Equal Rights Amendment, they’d say they didn’t believe in equal rights, but that they thought everyone deserved equal pay for equal work.

That’s exactly what the Lilly Ledbetter Act seeks to accomplish. A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, regardless of who the employee happens to be.

This is just one example of President Obama’s belief that everyone who follows the rules and works hard should have an equal chance to reap the benefits of that hard work.

I don’t know about everyone else, but that’s how I was raised: Follow the rules and work hard, pay your dues and it will pay off. Work hard in school, and get a job when you graduate. Work hard at your job, and receive a fair wage for your labor that will allow you to support your family and make a better life for your children.

We used to expect that, and the American economy delivered.

President Obama believes that it can be that way again if everyone does their best and pays their fair share. He believes that an economy where wealth is generated by a strong middle class and radiates outward is solid, sturdy and sustainable.

In contrast, the recent vice-presidential pick, Paul Ryan, voted against the Lily Ledbetter Act. When asked about it, Mitt Romney said he’d have to get back to us on that.

Not only do they not support equal pay for equal work, but they fail to understand the vital role that women play in contributing to the growth of our middle-class economy.

The choice here is clear.

We can grow forward and support the hard-working middle class that has always been the powerhouse of our modern economy, or we can follow the “Go Back Team” back to the early 1900s, to a time when the middle class barely existed, and the 99 percent who owed their souls to the company store to support the wealthy 1 percent.

Rebecca Ratliff

Portsmouth