GLAAD, an LGBT media advocacy organization, announced Wednesday it will honor former President Bill Clinton with its first ever “Advocate for Change” award at its 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles later this month.
In announcing the award, GLAAD cited several of Clinton’s pro-LGBT equality initiatives, while ignoring that, as President, he signed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on openly gay service members, and the “Defense of Marriage Act” which prohibits federal recognintion of legally married same-sex couples.
In 2011, Clinton advocated for marriage equality in New York, stating 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, he 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.
During his administration, Clinton became the first U.S. 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.
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.
“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,” said GLAAD’s Wilson Cruz.
“Leaders and allies like President Clinton are critical to moving our march for equality forward.”
Clinton has since said that he signed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the “Defense of Marriage Act” in an effort to derail more damaging anti-gay legislation.
Last month, GLAAD raised eyebrows in the LGBT community when it awarded film director Brett Ratner with the “Ally Award,” for his participation in a series of public service announcements.
In 2011, Ratner was forced him to step down as co-producer of the 2012 Academy Awards broadcast after he ignited a firestorm of criticism for using a gay slur, in which he said “rehearsal is for fags.”
Clinton wil receive the award on April 20 in Los Angeles.