Filmmaker Steven Spielberg was honored with the Human Rights Campaign's 2002 National Equality Award on Sunday in Washington, D.C. Singer Melissa Etheridge presented Spielberg with the award, calling him "a man with a heart and soul I have never known--one of the greatest artistic and altruistic men in America." Spielberg spoke about having to end his lifelong affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America when that group took to the Supreme Court its fight to bar gay scouts and scoutmasters. "I realized something that I really had not been very aware of," he said. "That you could be black, white, you could be Hispanic and Asian, Native American, Jewish, Catholic, Islamic, but you couldn't get into the Scouts if you were gay. And I know it's tough just being a kid trying to find acceptance, trying to accept yourself."
He added: "I just have to say that quitting the Boy Scouts was probably one of the most painful experiences I've ever had to endure. But they are wrong, and you are right. We are right--supporting causes like the Human Rights Campaign isn't difficult, and it's not even brave. It's mandatory, because every day we wake up in a country that presumes basic liberty and freedom."