As the recipient of the Advocate for Change Award, Bill Clinton was the star attraction at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday (20 April).
In a speech short by Clinton standards, the former US president gave much of the credit to his evolution on LGBT equality to his daughter, Chelsea Clinton who made a surprise appearance after his speech to present him the award.
He said his daughter ‘had a profound impact on the way I see the world. Chelsea and her gay friends and her wonderful husband have modeled to me the way we all should treat each other.’
The award to Clinton was seen as controversial by some since it is he who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996. Three years earlier, he also signed into law Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a policy that prevented gay and lesbian military personnel from serving openly. That law was repealed by congress in 2010.
Clinton did not mention his role in signing DOMA into law during his GLAAD speech but he made clear he wants it to be struck down.
‘I want to keep working on this until not only DOMA is no longer the law of the land, but until all people, no matter where they live, can marry the people they love,’ he said. ‘I believe you will win the DOMA fight, and I think you will win the constitutional right to marry. If not tomorrow, then the next day or the next day.’
In recent years, Clinton has advocated for marriage equality in New York and joined the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families in working against North Carolina’s proposed Amendment One to ban marriage and civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Most recently, he called for the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
At the GLAAD event remarked that those who are fighting against marriage equality are ‘acting out of concern for their own identity, not out of concern for anyone else.’
Clinton called for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), spoke of the need to fight bullying and voiced his support of immigration reform that does not discriminate against same-sex couples.
While it was he who received the Agent of Change Award, Clinton said the staff of GLAAD and other LGBT activists were the true agents of change.
‘You have made this a better, a more interesting and a more well-prepared country for the future’
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