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My Day at the White House: A Report from the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Signing Ceremony

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I Am Progress and recently wrapped up the first phase of our Out of the Way of Fair Pay campaign with President Obama signing the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. Passing the Ledbetter Act is an important step towards creating real pay equity for women and the families they support. There is still more to do, like passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, so we are not finished yet. For now, we are thankful to all of the activists who helped make this first step a success.

One of our team members, Jessica Arons, was invited to the White House last week for the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signing ceremony. Jessica wrote the "Lifetime Losses: The Career Wage Gap" report and directs the Center for American Progress's Women's Health and Rights Program. Below is an email she sent to our staff about her experience at the White House.

-------- Original Message --------

Subject: My Day at the White House

Date: Mon, 2 Feb 2009

From: Jessica Arons

To: All Staff

Hi American Progress Staffers!

For those of you who missed my presentation at last Thursday's All Staff meeting, I wanted to share this with you. I'm excited to report that I went to the White House for the Ledbetter Act signing ceremony on Thursday. It was my great honor to represent you, our online activists, and some of our partners who couldn't make it to the ceremony.

As a lot of you know, many activists, advocacy groups, and our friends in Congress contacted us last year to ask for CAPAF's help in promoting the Ledbetter Act - to redress the outrageous Supreme Court decision that wage discrimination suits would have to be filed within 180 days of the first instance of discrimination, even if the victim was unaware of the discrimination until years later.

Brian and Mike had the idea to do a report on the lifetime impact of the wage gap. So we commissioned a study and I wrote up the findings on what we coined the "career wage gap." (The median gap is $434,000 over 40 years!)

We used the report as the basis for our online action campaign, which kept pressure on Congress to pass the bill and on the business community to stop blocking fair pay reform. Alan has done a great job running the campaign in partnership with This has truly been a team effort--representatives from virtually every CAPAF department played a role in this campaign.

Yesterday was our first victory of the new progressive era! It was an awesome day and hopefully the first of many. Among our next priorities is passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will do even more to narrow the gender wage gap, help women gain full equality, and provide families with better economic security. Keep up the good work!

- Jess

P.S. Here are some photos from the bill signing and reception...

Lilly Ledbetter is the blonde woman in a red jacket getting the pen from President Obama:

Obama gives Lilly Ledbetter his pen

Here I am meeting the Vice President:

Jess Arons and VP Biden

Here I am with the First Lady of the United States!!!

Jess and the First Lady