Ellen DeGeneres Addresses Controversy Around George W. Bush Photo

Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images.
Ellen DeGeneres is calling for kindness after she was photographed laughing with former President George W. Bush at a Sunday Dallas Cowboys game. In a segment on her show Tuesday morning, she confirmed her friendship with Bush and addressed the many, many angry reactions to the now-viral photograph.
“People were upset,” DeGeneres admitted. “They thought, ‘Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president? A lot of people were mad, and they do what people do when they’re mad: they tweet.”
In the clip, DeGeneres explained that she and her wife, Portia De Rossi, were invited to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ suite. “When we were invited, I was aware that I was going to be surrounded with people from very different views and beliefs,” she said. But, she added, “Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.”
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DeGeneres’ response, like the photograph, has caused divisive reactions. Some lauded her emphasis on kindness and understanding, but others pointed out that LGBTQ+ communities are under attack right now in America — today, the Supreme Court will hear three momentous cases centered around gay men and a trans woman who were fired from their jobs based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, respectively. Some audiences have argued that it was an odd choice for DeGeneres, a prominent member of the community, to spend time with a former president who has harmed LGBTQ+ Americans in the past.
“Here’s the thing. I’m friends with George Bush,” DeGeneres said at the end of the segment. “In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different, and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay.”
Watch DeGeneres’ full statement below.
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