She did so because she's a funny, tenacious, and accessible comedian and talk show host, who has had a truly remarkable career.
But of course for a generation (or two) of LGBT people, her 1997 coming out remains the indelible memory associated with her. I still remember coming home early from the local Gay & Lesbian youth group meeting to watch the second half of "The Puppy Episode" with my mother (laugh all you want), in which Degeneres' sitcom character came out as gay in prime time.
As we all know, Ellen didn't fair too well in the months after it's lead character and its star came out of the closet, and a season later, suffering from poor ratings, it was canceled.
I know many of my fellow gay teens wondered if this was proof that LGBT people would never really be acceptable to mainstream America. Certainly pundits and industry commentators were all to happy to ascribe deep social import to the failure of a 22 minute ABC sitcom.
Which is why to many of us feel a sense of ownership in Ellen Degeneres' spectacular professional successes of the past decade. Simply by being herself, she has been accepted into millions of American homes, along the way becoming many people's first gay "friend."
So congratulations to Ellen, and here's what you need to know today:
At a Maryland town meeting, Rev. Robert Anderson, a black pastor, advocates against same-sex marriage using many of the biblical arguments once used against black civil rights and interracial marriage, before essentially calling for death to LGBT people. H/t to Southern4Life