Lest we think that pregnancy discrimination is a thing of the past, New Yorker Ron Blauchut is here to remind us. Upon learning that his Congresswoman, Kirsten Gillibrand, is pregnant, he wrote a charming letter to the editor to his local paper:
First of all, I must admit that I am a male chauvinist and that there are, thankfully, differences between men and women. There are many occupations suitable for women and their physical attributes. Carrying a weapon while serving in the Armed Forces and firefighting are not suitable lines of work for women to prove that they are physically equal to men. How many male police officers feel comfortable with a 100 pound female backup?
And now, I have to add serving in the U.S. House and Senate as an occupation that may not be suitable for women.
Ms. Gillibrand’s current pregnancy makes a strong case for my opinion. Ms. Gillibrand was elected to serve her constituency, and while she is away from her elected office she cannot perform those duties. The taxpayers who were duped into voting for her will have to pay for her medical benefits. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, Ms. Gillibrand receives excellent health benefits, courtesy of her constituents. We will be without representation in Congress for a time leading up to and following the child’s birth. There will be times when she and the new baby will visit doctors. You can add those days to the total that she will not be serving her constituents.
The current base salary (2006) for members of the House and Senate is $165,200 per year. I wonder if Ms. Gillibrand will do the right thing and reimburse the U.S. Treasury in the amount of $452.60, her daily salary, for each day that she is unable to perform her elected duties. For some reason, I doubt it.
First of all, I will say that he could have skipped that admission bit at the front; it’s pretty damn obvious. Second, has Mr. Blauchut forgotten about all the other reasons that elected officials “miss” days of work, none of which seem to annoy him? What about open heart surgery? Or campaigning for president? I’m guessing that he’s not asking Senators McConnell or McCain to return their $452 for each day they have been absent from their senate offices or from floor votes. And, for what it’s worth, I’m guessing that Mr. McConnell’s medical bills were far higher than Rep. Gillibrand’s will be.
No, Blauchut’s problem is not so much that his representative (who, mind you, already has one child and seems to have managed fine thus far) will have to miss a few days of work, but that a woman is in a traditionally male position of power at all.