During an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Thursday, President Obama thanked Ellen DeGeneres for her “courage” in the fight for greater societal acceptance of gay and lesbian people.
Ellen came out publically in 1997 during an appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Shortly after, her character Ellen Morgan, on her program The Ellen Show, came out. At the time, she was the first openly lesbian actress to play an openly lesbian character on television.
During his appearance Thursday, Ellen thanked president Obama for his work on advancing equality in the United States. Under his initiative, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the United States in June of 2015.
“It’s one of the things I’m proudest of because,” Obama told Ellen on Thursday “my whole political career has been based on the idea that we constantly want to include people and not exclude them.”
But, Obama told Ellen that when it comes to “changing hearts and minds” on the subject, “I don’t think anyone has been more influential than you on that, I mean that.”
Praising her “courage,” Obama told Ellen “it started with folks like you, I’m so proud of you.” Ellen was visibly getting emotional, but made light of the important moment, joking “I’m not really gay. I just thought it would work and I had to stick with it because people respond,” which was met with wild applause from the studio audience.