The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Megan Rapinoe Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom, Honors Griner

USWNT star soccer player Megan Rapinoe receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Joe Biden at the White House next to her lapel on a white suite showing support for WNBA star Brittney Griner.

Megan Rapinoe received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Joe Biden Thursday morning at the White House. The award is the highest civilian honor in the nation.

This is the first time a soccer player has received the honor, and it is the sixth time a female athlete has received it, according to the White House.

“Beyond the World Cup titles and the Olympic medals, Megan is a champion for [an] essential American truth that everyone — everyone — is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect," Biden said in his speech.

She was honored alongside 16 others, including gymnast Simone Biles, actor Denzel Washington, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, and Sen. John McCain, the latter two receiving the award posthumously.

"Megan, like Simone [Biles], I hope there is room for this medal between all the other awards you and Sue [Bird] have received during your remarkable careers," Biden said. Bird, a WNBA star, is Rapinoe's fiancée.

Since joining the U.S. Women's National Team in 2006, Rapinoe has won two gold medals with the team at the Olympics and two World Cups.

Her platform has allowed her to advocate for marriage equality and LGBTQ+ rights in general since she came out before the 2012 Olympics. In September 2016, Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem in support of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest against racism and police brutality.

She has also pushed for equal pay, resulting in a landmark deal to divide World Cup prize money equally between the men's and women's teams in May.

"Megan did something really consequential," Biden said. "She helped lead the change for perhaps the most important victory for anyone on her soccer team, or any soccer team: equal pay for women."

Rapinoe showed her support for basketball star Brittney Griner at today's ceremony.

With her suit choice, she honored Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February 17.

The 31-year-old Griner had earlier pleaded guilty to smuggling drugs into Russia but claimed that she did so "inadvertently.”

On the lapel of her white suit, Rapinoe, 37, wore Griner's initials and a flower.

"The most important part of today," she wrote on her Instagram story along with a flower bouquet emoji. "BG We Love You."

 

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