Women's Groups: Government Should Focus On Equal Pay, Not Promote Marriage

By Nicholas Ballasy | January 25, 2011 | 11:38 AM EST

(CNSNews.com) - Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women and Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women's Policy Research said the federal government should focus on equal pay in order to achieve economic security for women rather than promoting the institution of marriage between a man and women.

Many studies over the years have shown that marriage between a man and a women benefits women financially and leads to healthier lives for the couple’s children.

For example, a Pew Research Center study conducted last year showed that married life tends to make people richer.

CNSNews.com asked both activists if the federal government should do all it can to promote marriage between a man and a woman to ensure economic security for women.

“Personally, no, I do not believe that and I don’t think you’ll find any of the women’s groups who are members of the National Council of Women’s Organizations advocating that position,” Hartmann told CNSNews.com at the Capitol on Friday following a National Organization for Women briefing about women’s economic security.

She continued, “If you are a woman and you’re thinking, ‘how can I maximize income for my family? Oh, I better go find a higher earning guy but the other way to help families is to equalize the earnings so that women earn as much as men.”

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Hartmann cited “subsidized childcare” as a way to help women economically.

“There’s no reason really that the expense of raising children should be on the particular women or family that decides to have children because the presence of children in our society is something that benefits all of us,” she said.

“If we don’t have future population, we don’t have any secure retirement at all for example. So children really I think should be viewed as a kind of a public expense.”

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O’Neill disagreed with studies showing that married couples live longer and healthier lives, arguing that the federal government should focus on helping women as individuals and not promote marriage.

“Of course not. I’ve heard Republicans say that married women vote Republican more than they vote Democrat and that’s really what they’re trying to do. That’s a silly thing,” she said.

“No actually different studies with show if you pay women what they’re worth, you will raise so many families out of poverty. You will do – if women were paid what we are worth, the longevity would improve, the general health of our families would improve, the ability of our children would improve and in fact that would create a much better outcome than simply people getting married and staying married.”