June 25, 2019 at 9:05 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
Rep. Brown introduces bill to ensure equal pay for LGBT workers
U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) introduced the Fair Pay For All Act. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) introduced legislation on Tuesday aimed at ensuring equal pay for LGBT workers, which are shown in a recent survey to struggle with achieving financial parity with their non-LGBT counterparts.

The legislation, known as the Fair Pay for All Act, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to expand the definition of sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

“While the Trump administration wages a multi-front assault on the livelihoods of LGBTQ Americans, Congress has to act to ensure all Americans have a fair chance to earn a living,” Brown said in a statement. “This bill will enshrine equality in the Fair Labor Standards Act and will ensure all Americans receive equal pay for equal work, regardless of who they are or who they love.”

Brown introduces the bill on the heels of offering an amendment with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) to defense spending legislation that would defund President Trump’s transgender military ban. The amendment passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 243-183.

Joining Brown in introducing the Fair Pay for All Act as original co-sponsors are Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Angie Craig (D-Minn.), who are gay and co-chairs of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“As Americans, we are raised to believe that ‘all men are created equal,’” Cicilline said in a statement. “However, for far too many in a majority of states in our country, full equality under the law remains a goal, not a guarantee. This important legislation will finally put an end to pay discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community and bring them one step closer to full equality.”

According to a 2018 survey from LendingTree of student loan borrowers, LGBT workers are more likely than the general population to make less than $50,000.

Wage inequality is particularly true for women in same-sex relationships. According to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, a couple made up of two lesbian workers “usually has less household income than a heterosexual couple because of the gender wage gap,” although women in same-sex relationships report having more income than women in different-sex relationships.

Wage disparities are “even more drastic” for transgender people, especially transgender people of color women of color, because they “have to contend with lower pay based on racial inequality in addition to stigma around their identity,” a statement from Brown’s office says.

Among the supporters of the legislation is PFLAG National, the first and largest organizations for parents, families and allies of LGBT people.

“On behalf of our 200,000 members and supporters across the country, PFLAG National supports this bill to end pay discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity because harming one family member harms all,” Bond said in a statement.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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