President Obama has awarded more women with the honor than any other previous president in history.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest honor that a civilian can receive for their work in security or national interests to the U.S., world peace, or for their cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. On November 22, President Barack Obama honored 21 people with the award, including Ellen DeGeneres.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom reflects the values of President Obama’s administration and the legacy that he chooses to present once he leaves the office. Under his presidency, same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states, and in awarding Ellen, he acknowledged the significance of the LGBT community. He said, “It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far – where now marriage is equal under the law – just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago.” He continued, “Just how important it was. Not just to the LGBT community, but for all of us.”
Ellen DeGeneres receiving the prestigious medal is a significant step towards more representation in society, as she represents both the LGBT and female community. According to The Washington Post, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to bestow the honor of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to minorities.
In his eight-year term, President Obama has awarded a total of 41 women with this honor, which is more than any other president. According to Bustle, since President Bill Clinton gave his first Medal of Freedom in 1993, a total of 288 people received the award, and of those 288 recipients, only 71 were women.
When honoring DeGeneres, President Obama stated, “At a pivotal moment, her courage and candor helped change the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, accelerating our nation’s constant drive towards equality and acceptance for all.”
Since 2003, Ellen has starred in her own talk show called The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which has won 38 Daytime Emmy Awards and averages a total of 3.9 million viewers per episode. At the end of each episode, she tells her viewers, “Be kind to one another.”
President Obama continued, “Ellen DeGeneres has showed us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place, so long as we just keep swimming.”
With President Obama’s list of recipients, it is clear our society is progressing in representation for all communities. Although it is still not as great as we would like it to be, it is a significant step towards equality and acceptance.