Former US President Bill Clinton will be presented with the Advocate for Change Award at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles later this month for his recent work on behalf of marriage equality.
The award, to be presented at a star-studded gala on 20 April, could be seen as controversial to some since it is Clinton who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996. He has since called for the law to be struck down.
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 That law was repealed by congress in 2010.
‘President Clinton’s support of the LGBT community and recognition that DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional and should be struck down shows that the political landscape continues to change in favor of LGBT equality,’ GLAAD’s Wilson Cruz said in a statement. ‘Leaders and allies like President Clinton are critical to moving our march for equality forward.’
GLAAD points out that in 2011, Clinton advocated for marriage equality in New York.
He stated then that ‘for more than a century, our Statue of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free. In the 21st century, I believe New York’s welcome must include marriage equality.’
In 2012, Clinton 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.
GLAAD also states that during his administration, Clinton became the first US President to appoint out gay and lesbian people to all levels of government. He appointed more than 150 including James Hormel as America’s first openly gay ambassador.
Also, during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, his administration convened the first White House Conference on the epidemic, created the national AIDS Policy Coordinator post, and expanded funding for research.
In 2002, his Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) began as the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in the developing world.