Joe Biden brings in soccer star Megan Rapinoe to mark Equal Pay Day

Soccer stars Megan Rapinoe and Margaret Purce joined President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden to mark Equal Pay Day at the White House complex.

‘It doesn’t matter if you’re an electrician, an accountant or part of the best d**n soccer team in the world, the pay gap is real,’ the president announced. 

Equal Pay Day is a different date every year and symbolizes how far into the year the average woman must work in order to earn what the average man earns during the previous year.  

Both Dr. Biden and Rapinoe shared their personal stories. 

The first lady recalled getting her first job as a teacher in 1974 and then finding out her male colleague, with similar credentials, was getting paid more. 

‘I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t just the money, though that was unfair, it was the lack of respect, the discrimination. Why was my work worth less?’ the first lady asked. 

‘It’s personal to me because it’s personal to all women. It’s one example of how we still treat women differently than men. And it’s wrong,’ she said. ‘I don’t want my granddaughters to have to fight this same battle,’ the first lady also offered. 

Rapinoe and the women of the U.S. soccer team have famously been in a battle over being paid less than male players – even though their record far outshines the American men. 

Rapinoe spoke of the four World Cups the women’s team won, as well as four Olympic gold medals. 

‘And despite those wins, I’ve been devalued, I’ve been disrespected and dismissed because I am a woman,’ Rapinoe said. ‘And I’ve been told I don’t deserve any more than less because I am a woman.’

‘You see despite all the wins, I’m still paid less than the men who do the same job I do. For each trophy, of which there are many, and for each win, for each tie and for each time that we play, it’s less,’ she continued. ‘And I know there are millions of people who are marginalized by gender in the world and experience the same things in their jobs.’ 

‘And I know that there are people who experience even more, where the layers of discrimination continue to stack against them,’ she said. ‘And I and my teammates are here for them.’  

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe spoke Wednesday at the White House complex to mark Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year the average women must work in order to earn what the average man earns in the previous year

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe spoke Wednesday at the White House complex to mark Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year the average women must work in order to earn what the average man earns in the previous year

Soccer star Megan Rapinoe spoke Wednesday at the White House complex to mark Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year the average women must work in order to earn what the average man earns in the previous year

Dr. Jill Biden recalled getting her first teaching job and finding out she was being paid less than her male colleague with similar credentials. 'I don't want my granddaughters to have to fight this same battle'

Dr. Jill Biden recalled getting her first teaching job and finding out she was being paid less than her male colleague with similar credentials. 'I don't want my granddaughters to have to fight this same battle'

Dr. Jill Biden recalled getting her first teaching job and finding out she was being paid less than her male colleague with similar credentials. ‘I don’t want my granddaughters to have to fight this same battle’ 

President Joe Biden (right) signs an Equal Pay Day proclamation Wednesday surrounded by (from left) Dr. Jill Biden, Margaret Purce and Megan Rapinoe

President Joe Biden (right) signs an Equal Pay Day proclamation Wednesday surrounded by (from left) Dr. Jill Biden, Margaret Purce and Megan Rapinoe

President Joe Biden (right) signs an Equal Pay Day proclamation Wednesday surrounded by (from left) Dr. Jill Biden, Margaret Purce and Megan Rapinoe 

Earlier, Rapinoe said she was ‘honored’ to be invited by Biden to the White House, after saying ‘I’m not f***ing going,’ when it was occupied by former President Donald Trump. She made the comment two years ago during the last Women’s Soccer World Cup, which the U.S. won.   

The Bidens spoke of the friendly terms they were on with the soccer star, with the president recalling how he had gotten pictures of the team during their 2015 World Cup final match in Vancouver. 

Jill Biden (bottom left) dyed a chunk of her hair purple when she appeared with Megan Rapinoe (top) in April 2020 during an InstagramLive

Jill Biden (bottom left) dyed a chunk of her hair purple when she appeared with Megan Rapinoe (top) in April 2020 during an InstagramLive

Jill Biden (bottom left) dyed a chunk of her hair purple when she appeared with Megan Rapinoe (top) in April 2020 during an InstagramLive

‘You all made me a hero with my granddaughters,’ the president told Rapinoe, referencing all the pictures he took of the team walking on the field. He called himself an ‘unadulterated fan.’ 

Dr. Biden asked Rapinoe to forgive her. ‘I decided not to dye my hair purple again.’ 

‘The last time I saw her I sprayed  purple in my hair,’ the first lady said. 

The Bidens and Rapinoe had appeared together for a virtual discussion last April, during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and after Biden essentially secured the Democratic nomination.   

The InstagramLive video featured the now-first lady with a thick purple tuft. 

On Wednesday, Rapinoe walked to the podium and expressed relief when pulling off her mask. 

‘First time all day with no mask on. It’s nice,’ she said. ‘I’m sure you all feel the same,’ she told the press pool that was gathered in the auditorium. She also said she needed a ‘fancy presidential binder’ like the one Dr. Biden used. ‘Maybe one of these days,’ she said, laughing.  

While Purce stood alongside Rapinoe ‘literally,’ twenty-plus of Rapinoe’s teammates attended the Equal Pay Day event virtually, their faces shown on the jumbotron screen. 

‘I’m a member of the LGBTQ community with pink hair and where I come from I could have only dreamed that I would be standing in the position I am today at the White House,’ Rapinoe said. 

She talked about being a good ally – as she reiterated her support for the Black Lives Matter movement, though didn’t reference it by name. 

‘We also know what it means, not only to have allies, but to be allies. We know what it means when people kneel to kneel with them,’ she said. 

‘We know what it means when people stand and cheer. And we know what it’s like to be in a full stadium, thousands and thousands of people who chant together all at once at our moment of greatest triumph: “Equal pay, equal pay,”‘ she continued.

‘Beyond the cheers and the gestures, there is so much real work to be done. On policies that continue to support equal pay, but also continue to fight against these injustices and inequalities, and not just for ourselves but for those who are coming after us,’ she added. 

Rapinoe introduced Biden as ‘one of our greatest allies.’  

Biden recalled how the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed by former President Barack Obama, when he served as vice president. 

Back then Equal Pay Day was held in April, this year the end of March. 

‘This year Equal Pay Day falls in late March, which is a little bit better but not much – from late April to late March – and frankly, we shouldn’t be satisfied until Equal Pay Day is no longer necessary,’ Biden said, calling it ‘wrong.’ 

At the end of the event, Biden signed a new Equal Pay Day proclamation that encouraged Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. 

The legislation, among other things, punishes employers who retaliate against workers who share salary information. 

‘Too often secrecy is part of the problem,’ Biden pointed out. ‘You can’t solve the problem if you don’t know you’re not getting paid fairly.’  

Rapinoe and Purce stopped by the White House briefing room on Wednesday ahead of an Equal Pay Day event with the Bidens. 

‘It’s really amazing,’ Rapinoe told reporters about being there. ‘Both of us feel honored to even be invited and continue the fight that we’ve had for a long time.’ 

She added this was ‘a much more welcoming administration, obviously, so that’s also nice.’

Rapinoe was given the tour by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who sat in the reporters’ seat while the soccer star stood at the podium. 

‘It’s so small up here. This is where everyone was all the time?’ Rapinoe said as she stood and mugged for the cameras.  

American women, who earn 82 cents on average for every dollar earned by men, also have been hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic. More than 2.3 million have left the workforce since February 2020, according to the National Women’s Law Center. 

The pay gap is far greater when for minority women: black women earn 63 cents on the dollar and Latina women earn 55 cents on the dollar. 

US soccer player Megan Rapinoe stopped by the White House briefing room ahead of her meeting with President Biden

US soccer player Megan Rapinoe stopped by the White House briefing room ahead of her meeting with President Biden

US soccer player Megan Rapinoe stopped by the White House briefing room ahead of her meeting with President Biden

Margaret Purce and Megan Rapinoe will join Joe and Jill Biden to talk about equal pay

Margaret Purce and Megan Rapinoe will join Joe and Jill Biden to talk about equal pay

Margaret Purce and Megan Rapinoe will join Joe and Jill Biden to talk about equal pay

Former President Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden

Megan Rapinoe, who is a lesbian and LGTBQ activist, feuded with then-President Trump during 2019 World Cup and said she wouldn’t visit the White House while he was president; Rapinoe called Biden’s administration more welcoming

Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team testifies virtually during a House Oversight Committee hearing titled "Honoring Equal Pay Day: Examining the Long-Term Economic Impacts of Gender Inequality"

Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team testifies virtually during a House Oversight Committee hearing titled "Honoring Equal Pay Day: Examining the Long-Term Economic Impacts of Gender Inequality"

Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team testifies virtually during a House Oversight Committee hearing titled ‘Honoring Equal Pay Day: Examining the Long-Term Economic Impacts of Gender Inequality’

Biden’s America Rescue Plan, which he and administration officials have been selling to the public in their ‘Help is Here’ road show, contains provisions to help women return to the workforce.

Rapinoe led the U.S. soccer team to its second consecutive Women’s World Cup win in 2019. The women’s team has sued U.S. Soccer, alleging gender discrimination and demanding equal pay to the men’s team.  

Fans shouted ‘equal pay’ in the final World Cup match as the women played in a show of solidarity.  

The women’s team reached a settlement in December with U.S. Soccer on certain conditions, including team travel and accommodations, but is still fighting on the pay issue.

The soccer star also testified about the equal pay issue before a House committee on Wednesday morning.

‘We have filled stadiums, broken viewing records, and sold out jerseys, all popular metrics by which we are judged,’ Rapinoe told lawmakers, ‘yet despite all of this, we are still paid less than men for each trophy – of which there are many, each win – each tie, each time we play.’

She added: ‘There’s no accomplishment or power that will protect you from the clutches of inequality. One cannot simply outperform inequality or be excellent enough to escape discrimination of any kind.’ 

Since the start of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France, Megan Rapinoe (seen left) has declined to sign the anthem or place her hand on her heart

Since the start of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France, Megan Rapinoe (seen left) has declined to sign the anthem or place her hand on her heart

Since the start of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, Megan Rapinoe (seen left) has declined to sign the anthem or place her hand on her heart

Rapinoe endorsed Elizabeth Warren during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary but backed Biden once he became the nominee.  

During the 2019 world cup tournament, Rapinoe quarreled with Trump and said she would not head to the White House for the traditional visit by a championship team.

Trump had criticized Rapinoe for not singing along with the National Anthem. Many athletes knelt for the singing of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ to protest against racism and police violence.

Rapinoe was one of the few white athletes, and the first female, to join Colin Kaepernick in his taking the knee. Trump heavily criticized the football player for his actions. 

‘I’m not going to the f*****g White House,’ Rapinoe told Eight by Eight magazine in June 2019 when asked about the traditional visit. In 2015, she and the team visited the White House after winning the World Cup in Canada, when Barack Obama was president.

‘No. I’m not going to the White House. We’re not gonna be invited,’ Rapinoe said.

Professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe (R) pretends to call on journalists as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (L) looks on in the Brady Press Briefing Room

Professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe (R) pretends to call on journalists as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (L) looks on in the Brady Press Briefing Room

Professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe (R) pretends to call on journalists as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (L) looks on in the Brady Press Briefing Room

Megan Rapinoe said she speaks out against Trump because he excludes people like her

Megan Rapinoe said she speaks out against Trump because he excludes people like her

Megan Rapinoe said she speaks out against Trump because he excludes people like her

The U.S. Women's Soccer Team after winning the 2019 World Cup in Lyon, France; they did not get a White House visit but got a ticker tape parade in New York City

The U.S. Women's Soccer Team after winning the 2019 World Cup in Lyon, France; they did not get a White House visit but got a ticker tape parade in New York City

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team after winning the 2019 World Cup in Lyon, France; they did not get a White House visit but got a ticker tape parade in New York City

Trump responded by advising Rapinoe to win first and then talk later. ‘Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!,’ Trump tweeted at the time.

The women’s team won the World Cup and did not attend a championship ceremony at the White House. They did get a ticker tape parade in New York City. 

Rapinoe, who is a lesbian and an LGBTQ activist, said she speaks out against Trump because he excludes people like her. 

‘I think Trump’s message excludes people that look like me and are me, of course,’ Rapinoe told NBC News after the team’s World Cup win.

‘But it excludes a lot of people in his base, as well. And I think that he is trying to divide so he can conquer, not unite so we can all conquer,’ she said. 

After Rapinoe started kneeling during the anthem, the United States Soccer Federation adopted a policy that requires players to stand during the anthem.

She stood but was criticized for not singing and putting her hand over her heart like other players. 

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