Watch as Ellen DeGeneres is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her role in promoting equal rights for the past 20 years.
President Obama spoke of how her decision to come out and to be a role model for LGBT Americans had initially harmed her career, calling for people to recognise her convictions.
In his speech to invited guests and dignitaries, President Obama said that Ellen “reminds us that we have more in common than we realise”.
“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.
“Just how important it was, not just to the LGBT community, but for all of us to see somebody so full of kindness and light, somebody we liked so much, somebody who could be our neighbor, or our colleague, or our sister, challenge our own assumptions.
“Remind us that we have more in common that we realize. Push our country in the direction of justice. What an incredible burden that was to bear, to risk your career like that.
“People don’t do that very often. And then to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders,” Obama said during the presentation.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor that a U.S. civilian can receive and Ellen teared up while being given her medal.
Other stars who received the medal included Tom Hanks, Diana Ross, Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Redford, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, basketball players Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill and Melinda Gates, and more.