GLAAD congratulates the creative teams and casts of Milk and Vicky Cristina Barcelona which received three Oscars at the 81st Annual Academy Awards. Milk was nominated in eight categories and received the Oscar for BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY for writer Dustin Lance Black, and PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE, to Sean Penn for his role as Harvey Milk. Vicky Cristina Barcelona was nominated and won for PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, for star Penelope Cruz, who plays Maria Elena, a woman who has a relationship with Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) and Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). “GLAAD applauds those who have brought the important story of Milk to so many millions of people, and congratulates Dustin Lance Black and Sean Penn for their well-deserved Oscar wins,” said Neil G. Giuliano, President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “They are to be commended for telling a story that has the power to inform future generations about the history of our community and our struggles for equality. Through Sean Penn’s own connection with the character, he was able to give audiences the opportunity to learn more about Harvey Milk’s lasting influence on our movement and our community.” ““The success of Milk has tremendous impact in creating awareness, understanding and acceptance during a time when our community continues to face opposition in our pursuit of equality,” added Giuliano. “The images of our community that these and other LGBT inclusive films bring to audiences around the country help people embrace the LGBT community with understanding and acceptance.” According to Harris Interactive’s recent Pulse of Equality survey commissioned by GLAAD, nearly 20 percent of Americans say their feelings toward gay and lesbian people have become more favorable over the past five years. Respondents whose views have become more favorable cited seeing gay or lesbian characters in movies (29%) as a contributing factor. In openly gay writer Dustin Lance Black’s moving acceptance speech he called for LGBT equality: “If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches or by the government or by their families that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours.” During Sean Penn’s acceptance speech he also called attention to LGBT equality. "I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone,” Penn said. Transcripts of both speeches are online at glaadBLOG. Both Milk and Vicky Cristina Barcelona are nominated for Outstanding Film – Wide Release at the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, which honor media for fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community. The 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held in New York on March 28, 2009 at the Marriott Marquis; in Los Angeles on April 18 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE; and in San Francisco on May 9 at the Hilton San Francisco.