The MTV Video Music Awards wasn’t all about Miley Cyrus’ jaw-dropping twerks.
In one of the more poignant moments of the evening, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ gay rights anthem “Same Love” won the award for “Best Video with a Social Message” at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards in Brooklyn.
“To watch this song in the last year spread across the world is a testament to what is happening right now in America on the forefront of equality,” said Macklemore while accepting his Moonman statue. “Gay rights are human rights, there is no separation.”
Jason Collins, the NBA player who came out earlier this year, introduced the duo who performed the song with singer Mary Lambert and surprise guest Jennifer Hudson.
“The only way things change is when you stand up for what you believe in,” Collins told the crowd at the Barclays Center. He appeared on stage with rapper A$AP Rocky to give his introduction.
The hit single by the Seattle rappers overtly embraces marriage equality at a time when recent polling suggests the nation appears to be shifting its mood in favor of same-sex marriage.
In a sweeping victory for proponents of marriage equality, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June. The 1996 law had banned the federal government from formally recognizing marriages between same-sex couples.
Macklemore told The New York Times he composed the song in March 2012 after reading an article about a bullied gay teenager who committed suicide. As a straight man, he said he also wanted to show his support for his two gay uncles and his gay godfather.
“I just wanted to hold myself accountable and hold hip-hop accountable and bring up an issue that was being pushed under the rug,” Macklemore said. The video calls out other hip-hop artists for using gay slurs and religious leaders for refusing to support marriage equality.
As of today, the video has more than 70 million hits on YouTube alone.