Despite having signed two anti-gay laws during his presidency, former US president Bill Clinton has been honoured by gay rights group GLAAD.
On Sunday, Clinton received the Advocate for Change Award from his daughter Chelsea Clinton at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards.
At the ceremony in Los Angeles, Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence and Broadway star Harvey Weinstein introduced the former president to loud cheers from the audience.
In accepting the award, Clinton called for the end of the so-called “Defence of Marriage Act” or DOMA.
“I’m very honoured to join with Edie Windsor […] and with so many others, including President Obama and Vice President Biden, the whole Obama administration, urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defence of Marriage Act. 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.”
At one point, someone in the audience shouted out, “You signed it!” but Clinton did not respond directly to the jibe.
Clinton signed DOMA, which bars the federal government from recognising same-sex marriages, into law in 1996. The law is being contested in the US Supreme Court.
He also signed the now repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law in 1993, which banned openly gay and lesbian personnel from serving in the US military.
Clinton has said that he regretted approving the laws but argued that they were compromises forced on him.
“Over the years, I was forced to confirm the fact that people who oppose equal rights for gays based on the marriage issue are basically acting out of concern for their own identity, not out of respect for anyone else. I believe you will win the DOMA fight,” Clinton said.
Also at the star-studded ceremony, hosted by actress Drew Barrymore, Ryan Murphy, the co-creator of The New Normal, accepted the award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Murphy was also awarded the trophy for American Horror Story: Asylum which received the nod for Outstanding TV Movie or Mini-Series.
Writer, director Stephen Chbosky accepted the award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release for his movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The award for Outstanding Daily Drama went to Days of Our Lives for the second consecutive year.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Charlize Theron also presented the Stephen F. Kolzak Award to entertainment attorney Steve Warren. It is given to an openly LGBT member of the entertainment or media community for his or her work toward eliminating homophobia.
The GLAAD Media Awards “recognise and honour media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and the issues that affect their lives”.
Watch Bill Clinton’s speech at the GLAAD Awards below.