Comedian-actress Ellen DeGeneres and MCA Records president Jay Boberg received Bill of Rights Awards Sunday evening at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California’s annual Bill of Rights dinner.
The event, held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, also honored Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest, with the Courageous Advocate Award. Founder of Jobs for a Future and Homeboy Industries, he has created jobs for inner-city youngsters.
“Ellen’s” DeGeneres was honored for “enabling the nation to take a more sensitive look at sexual orientation” when she became the first openly gay lead on a primetime series.
In answer to prevailing criticism that her show has become “too gay,” DeGeneres offered a foreign food analogy: “I think that there is a digestive process going on. I offered society something that wasn’t on the menu. It doesn’t mean the food is bad, it’s just new to your system.” She went on to say that “it’s a shame that as far as we’ve come, we’re still so ashamed of diversity and being different.”
Following an acoustic performance by MCA band Live, Boberg was honored for his stand against censorship and for advocating artists’ rights and the First Amendment. “Throughout my career, I’ve fought for the bands and musicians that have pushed boundaries,” Boberg said.