Anti-bias laws don’t guarantee equal pay
A study has found that gay partners in Hawaii earn much less than married men.
HAWAII has prohibited discrimination in the workplace because of sexual orientation for 17 years, but it has had little if any economic effect, according to a UCLA report.
As elsewhere in the country, gay partners in Hawaii are better educated but make substantially less money than their heterosexual married coworkers. The finding, based on Census Bureau figures, is puzzling and merits further study.
The UCLA law school's Williams Institute, which advances sexual-orientation law and policy, reported in December that 40 percent of Americans in same-sex partnerships have college degrees, while only 27 percent of married people are degreed. However, men in same-sex partnerships make salaries averaging $43,117 -- $6,600 less than married men.
The institute reported last week that gay partners in Hawaii, who receive greater protections against bias, are even worse off. While college achievement is similar to the national figures, Hawaii men in same-sex partnerships earn $33,542 a year, while married men make $11,230 more.
Economists and sociologists agree that people who have similar jobs and personal attributes should have the same average pay, the institute reported last June. If employees in one group make less than another, they "would conclude that employers are discriminating against the lower earning group," it noted.
However, the institute acknowledged that anti- discrimination laws' "positive effects may not be quantifiable through wage analysis." Lest Hawaii lawmakers consider repealing the law, the institute suggests it may have redeeming effects, such as making it "easier for gays and lesbians to come out at work, improve intra- office dynamics or help gays and lesbians to achieve a greater sense of dignity."
Incidentally, Hawaii lesbians in partnerships average about the same wages as married women. Go figure.
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