02/29/2008 at 08:00 AM EST
took a rare political stance – though she was careful to call it a personal stance, because, she said, "this is important to me" – on her show scheduled to air Friday, regarding the murder of 15-year-old Lawrence King, shot in the head on Feb. 12 by a classmate in a suburban Oxnard, Calif., junior high school.
King was killed because he had asked another boy to be his Valentine, DeGeneres reminded her audience about the news story that sent shockwaves across the country.
As the 50-year-old show host, emphasized, "To be gay you can get killed for it ... we need to change the message." (To see the clip from her show, click here
Choking back tears, she added, "Larry is not a second-class citizen. I am not a second-class citizen. It is okay if you are gay."
DeGeneres said the country must change the subtext of hatred aimed at certain groups as is found in jokes, movies, speeches and other elements of the culture. "All of it is unacceptable," she said. "Laughing at someone because he's gay is just the start of it."
Noting that change is on the minds of people this political season, DeGeneres said, "We can do it with our behavior ... Fight hate."
More information will be made available on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Web site
, she also said.