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Legislatively Speaking

Lena C. Taylor

There have been some undeniable wins in the past week. You can’t ignore the fact that for the first time in 92 years, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team have accomplished the previously unattainable at the World Cup. They are winning big! Americans, who have rarely followed soccer in the past, are glued to their screens. Many of us don’t fully understand the FIFA World Cup and couldn’t actually point to Qatar on the map, but we’re all in.

In the world of politics, we’ve had some victories as well. Wisconsin’s own U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin helped guide the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act through the U.S. Senate. The bill requires the federal government to recognize the validity of same-sex and interracial marriages in the United States, and to protect religious liberty. Prompted by a conservative leaning U.S. Court and their recent decision to flip the right to an abortion on its head, Baldwin and others understood the assignment: protect the existing rights of same-sex and interracial marriage. With bi-partisan support in the U.S. Senate, it should sail through the House. Feels like another win, right? Well, it is, kinda sorta.

Like most things, the devil is in the details or at least the fine print. In terms of the Respect for Marriage Act, we have to understand a few things. As has been noted by many observers, the bill is a safety net of sorts. If for some reason, the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn the 2015 decision in Obergefel v. Hodges, states with laws against same-sex marriage, would kick back in. Baldwin’s bill requires states and the federal government to honor marriages performed in states where it is permissible. The bill doesn’t offer any new rights for same sex marriages, it protects what’s currently in place. Bittersweet.

To further highlight the details, let’s turn back to soccer. Without being a huge fan of the sport, I’ve read the headlines for years. According to a recent article posted on pbs.org, “While the U.S. women have been successful on the international stage with back-to-back World Cup titles, differences in FIFA prize money meant they took home far less than the men’s winners. American women received a $110,000 bonus for winning the 2019 World Cup; the U.S. men would have received $407,000 had they won in 2018.”

This year an agreement was reached to fairly compensate U.S. women and it couldn’t have come at a better time. They will split the roughly $13 million dollars prize for their U.S. male counterparts advancing in the World Cup. The $6.5 million payday is larger than the prize money won by the women for winning two World Cup tournaments in 2 combined years. The women will actually earn more money off the men advancing than they did when they won the tournament themselves…..twice. Bittersweet.

Bottom line, equity, whether in women’s pay or laws on marriage equality, are a relatively new thing. We have to fight for every win and leave everything on the field, to ensure that we keep moving the ball forward in the right for all to be equally valued and respected.

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