US Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY14), Louise Slaughter (D-NY28) and Brad Sherman (D-CA27) joined together today to announce a new federal bill that would eliminate tax breaks for corporations that hold business conferences and meetings at male-exclusive clubs. The members of Congress were joined by Martha Burk, chair of the National Council for Women’s Organizations (NCWO), who is leading the fight against Augusta National, and Feminist Majority Vice President Kathy Spillar. “The American taxpayer should never pick up the tab for discrimination of any kind,” said Maloney in her press statement on the “Ending Tax Breaks for Discrimination Act of 2003,” also known as the Maloney-Sherman bill. “This bill sends the message that we are not stopping at Augusta. It is not about ending sexual discrimination at one club, it’s about ending sexual discrimination everywhere.” California, Colorado, and Kentucky have already enacted similar legislation.
Currently, the tax code permits business expense deductions for conventions, travel, accommodations, and advertising. In addition, deductions may also include expenses incurred while promoting and conducting business activities at private clubs, as well as 50 percent of business meals. There are more than 3,000 private clubs in the US, at least 24 of which are male-exclusive. Supporters of the Maloney-Sherman measure insist that government-subsidized discrimination is yet another example of how women are consistently excluded from major business decisions. Moreover, by entertaining at clubs that discriminate against women, corporations violate their own anti-discrimination and diversity policies.