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Bill Clinton Eases Tension at GLAAD Awards

Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron also show support at gala

There was clear tension in the room when Bill Clinton started talking about the Defense of Marriage Act at the 24th GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles. It erupted just once at the April 20 gathering when someone from the back of the JW Marriott ballroom called out, “You signed it!”

Otherwise, Clinton received a hearty welcome from the crowd, accepting GLAAD’s Advocate for Change kudo. And while Clinton never addressed signing DOMA directly, he did make his current position clear: “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 added.

The former president thanked his daughter, Chelsea, who surprised the audience with her appearance. She presented her father with the award, and the pair walked off stage arm in arm.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Charlize Theron preceded the Clintons to present entertainment lawyer Steve Warren with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award.

The night was far less stately earlier, with appearances from Betty White and Cloris Leachman, who had the winning bid at an auction for a kiss from White. But when Leachman went in to claim her prize (with tongue), White recoiled, saying, “I’m open minded, but I’m not ridiculous.”

Accepting the award for best film for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” director-scribe Stephen Chbosky joked, “This will be the last awards show for ‘Perks,’ and the most meaningful because let’s face it, gays have the best taste.”

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