President Obama said that Ellen “reminds us that we have more in common than we realise”.
“It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far, where now marriage is equal under the law—just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago. Just how important it was not just to the LGBT community, but for all of us to see somebody so full of kindness and light, somebody we liked so much, somebody who could be our neighbor or our colleague or our sister challenge our own assumptions, remind us that we have more in common than we realize, push our country in the direction of justice,”
President Obama continued
“What an incredible burden that was to bear. To risk your career like that. People don’t do that very often. And then to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders. But it’s like Ellen says: We all want a tortilla chip that can support the weight of guacamole. Which really makes no sense to me, but I thought would brighten the mood, because I was getting kind of choked up. And she did pay a price—we don’t remember this. I hadn’t remembered it,” President Obama said. “She did, for a pretty long stretch of time—even in Hollywood. And yet, today, every day, in every way, Ellen counters what too often divides us with the countless things that bind us together—inspires us to be better, one joke, one dance at a time.”
Others Who Received the Same Honour
The award is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavours.”
Among the 21 recipients this year are Robert De Niro, Bill and Melinda Gates, Tom Hanks, Diana Ross, Vin Scully and Bruce Springsteen.
Earlier this year, Bruce Springsteen spoke out against North Carolina’s discriminatory anti-LGBTQ law, HB2, and now the Governor behind it is trying to cheat his way into re-election.
Past openly gay and lesbian honorees include Stephen Sondheim -Sally Ride -Harvey Milk -Billie Jean King -Bayard Rustin.