Obama Declares Historic Women’s Rights Site National Monument On Equal Pay Day

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the newly-designated Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Obama's remarks were delivered on Equal Pay Day, an annual commemoration to point out the income disparity between genders. Pool Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI

WASHINGTON, April 13 (UPI) — One day after a new study reported that the income gap between American men and women equals $500 billion per year, President Barack Obama underscored his desire to close that gap by declaring a new national monument.

Obama visited the Sewall-Belmont House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, which has long been a symbol of women’s fight for equality, and declared the historic site a new federally-protected national monument.

“It should be noted that today is Equal Pay Day, which means a woman has to work about this far into 2016 just to earn what a man earned in 2015,” he said.

Monday, the National Partnership for Women & Families released a new study that said, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, American women on average still only earn 79 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts.

That difference, the research said, amounted to $500 billion in lost wages for full-time working women every year.

“Equal pay for equal work should be a fundamental principle of our economy,”Obama added. “It’s the idea that whether you’re a high school teacher, a business executive, or a professional soccer player or tennis player, your work should be equally valued and rewarded, whether you are a man or a woman.”

The Sewall-Belmont House, in addition to housing a museum, has also served as the headquarters of the National Women’s Party, which has been a prominent advocate of women’s rights — particularly in voting eligibility before the 1920 passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The site, which was designated a national historic landmark in 1974, will now be known as the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument.

Obama also called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that seeks to close the wage gap.

“I’m not here just to say we should close the wage gap. I’m here to say we will close the wage gap,” the president continued. “And if you don’t believe me that we’re going to close our wage gap, you need to come visit this house, because this house has a story to tell.”


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