LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Former President Bill Clinton was given the first advocate for change award during the 24th annual GLAAD Awards held on Saturday evening in Los Angeles.
The GLAAD awards pay tribute to “inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives.”
The event, hosted by actress-producer-director Drew Barrymore, boasted such Hollywood heavyweights as presenters Jennifer Morrison, Charlize Theron, Betty White and Leonardo DiCaprio.
“I want to keep working on this until not only DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] is no longer the law of the land, but until all people, no matter where they live, can marry the people they love,” the former president said during his acceptance speech.
“You have helped me come to the place where I am today. That’s why you are the true agents of change. But we have all learned in our interdependent society and our increasingly interdependent world that whenever people anywhere are denied any rights, it diminishes us all,” 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,” Clinton added.
Clinton explained that his daughter, Chelsea, had a profound impact on the way he sees the world.
“Chelsea and her gay friends and her wonderful husband have modeled to me the way we all ought to treat each other without regard to our sexual orientation or any other artificial difference that divides us,” he explained.
On the arrivals line, longtime Clinton friend, Oscar-winner Mary Steenburgen, defended the former president’s controversial honor. Under Clinton’s administration came DOMA, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, as well as the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy.
“Actually, (“don’t ask, don’t tell”) was a sorrow for him,” Steenburgen said. “So, I think he’s spent a large part of his life making up for that. But I tell you this: He’s never not had his heart in the right place, in terms of the gay community.”
Many who walked the press gauntlet shared personal stories. Actor Justin Bartha said a brother’s coming out moved him both personally and professionally.
“It was an inspiring moment — I’m sure for him and definitely me and my whole family,” Bartha noted. “So, it was at the forefront of my mind when looking at (the role of half of a gay couple in “The New Normal”).”
“Kyle XY” actor Matt Dallas discussed his decision to come out publicly earlier this year. MSNBC news anchor Thomas Roberts talked about the recent marriage to his male partner of 12 years. Entertainment blogger Perez Hilton detailed the challenges of being the single gay parent of newly adopted child.
And transgendered Chaz Bono expressed hopes for the gay lesbian bisexual transgender community’s future.
“I mean, I think the goal always has to be equality in all aspects under the law,” he said. “You’re never going to eradicate discrimination. We see that with other minorities. Racism is still, unfortunately, alive and well. But equal protection under the law makes a huge difference. So, I think, for me, that is the goal, that is the thing to strive for.”
Other winners included “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” which was named outstanding film: wide release; and NBC’s “The New Normal,” “Days of Our Lives,” and FX’s thriller “American Horror Story: Asylum,” all of which took top TV honors.
Additional 2013 GLAAD Media Awards were presented in New York on March 16. The final awards will be presented in San Francisco May 11.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)