Equal pay activist Lilly Ledbetter weighed in on Mitt Romney’s bizarre “binders full of women” comment that launched a near instantaneous meme and became the most-watched moment of the presidential debate. The moment in question came in response to a serious question over equal pay for women during Tuesday night’s presidential debate.
“The binders disturbed me. That was unnerving to be talking about binders,” Ledbetter told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Wednesday’s The Last Word.
She called the equal pay for equal work a “no-brainer” and expressed frustration with Team Romney.
“When you’re talking about equal pay for equal work, you’re talking about the American family. It’s a fundamental American right to be paid and compensated and we have the law,” added Ledletter, an avid Obama supporter. “I don’t understand why Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have such a hard time understanding that.”
At the debate, Romney didn’t inspire confidence that he would be an advocate for equal pay for women. Referencing his time in office as Massachusetts governor, he said:
We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.
Paul Ryan, who is on record voting against the Lilly Ledbetter Act for Equal Pay for Women, tried to clarify his running mate’s “binders” statement.
“All he simply meant was that he went out of his way to try and recruit qualified women to serve in his administration when he was governor. That’s really what he was saying,” he told CBS Wednesday.
It remains unclear whether Mitt Romney and his campaign support the Lilly Ledbetter Act for Equal Pay for Women. It was the first bill that President Obama signed into law, which gives women more flexibility to sue over inequality in the workplace.
President Obama proudly touted the Lily Ledbetter legislation during the debate.
“It’s named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less, and the Supreme Court said that she couldn’t bring suit because she should have found about it earlier,” he said. “That’s an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family.”
On average, women currently earn 77-cents for every dollar compared to their male counterparts.