“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,” Obama said at the ceremony at the White House.
“What an incredible burden that was to bear, to risk her career like that. People don’t do that very often, and then to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders.” he added, before cracking an Ellen joke.
“But it’s like Ellen says: ‘We all want a tortilla chip, that can support the weight of guacamole,’ which really makes no sense to me, but I thought it would break the mood because I was getting kind of choked up,” Obama admitted.
After the emotional tribute, it was DeGeneres’ turn to get choked up as she was presented with the medal.
DeGeneres was one of 21 honored in Obama’s final ceremony to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor.