Former president Bill Clinton accepted the Advocate for Change Award at the 24th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation dinner in Los Angeles on Saturday, and revealed that his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, was one of the main reasons he decided to stand up for same-sex marriage.
"She has had a profound impact on the way I see the world," Clinton said of his 33-year-old daughter, his only child. "It's sort of humbling when you get to be my age when your child knows more than you do about everything."
The former president continued:
"Chelsea and her gay friends have modeled to me how we should all treat each other regardless of our sexual orientation or any other artificial difference that divides us. Many of them come and join us every Thanksgiving for a meal. I have grown very attached to them. And over the years, I was forced to confront the fact that people who oppose equal rights for gays in the marriage sphere are basically acting out of concern for their own identity, not out of respect for anyone else."
Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1997, which affirmed the federal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. In March, however, he said that it was time to overturn the bill, siding with wife and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as current President Barack Obama.
"As the president who signed the act into law, I have come to believe that DOMA is contrary to those principles and, in fact, incompatible with our Constitution," the founder of the Clinton Global Initiative wrote.
The Hollywood Reporter reminded readers that the former president appointed more than 150 gay and lesbian individuals to a variety of government posts during his time in office, and also increased federal funding for HIV/AIDS research.
Clinton has said that his decision to sign DOMA into law was forced by political circumstances, and vowed to fight on to overturn the bill. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on DOMA in June.
"I want to keep working on this until not only is DOMA no longer the law of the land, but until all people – no matter where they live – can marry the people they love," Clinton told the crowd at the GLAAD awards.
As for his award as an "agent of change," which was presented by famous film producer Harvey Weinstein and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, Clinton argued that GLAAD and gay right supporters deserve the real credit for influencing American society to embrace gay relationships.
While Clinton and a number of other political figures have said that the Supreme Court should legalize gay marriage on both a state and federal level, pro-family groups have warned that changing the definition of marriage can have an adverse effect on children.
"You know, when we look at same-sex marriage or gay relationships, it's just one of the many things that are outside of God's design for human sexuality," said Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, earlier.