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.”
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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