Published Sunday, 17 March 2013
The popular broadcaster and TV host, who confirmed he was gay last year, was honoured with the Vito Russo Award, which is presented to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professional who has made "a significant difference in promoting equality", and is named after a founder of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
The Material Girl took to the stage in New York to present Cooper with the top honour, and couldn't help but court controversy with her onstage ensemble - a swipe at the Boy Scouts' ban on openly gay and transgender leaders.
Donning the shorts, shirt and hat worn by members of the Boy Scouts of America, the gay icon told the audience: "I wanted to be a Boy Scout, but they wouldn't let me join. I think that's f***** up. I can build a fire. I know how to pitch a tent. I have a very good sense of direction. I can rescue kittens from trees. Listen, I wanna do (good) for the community."
Madonna then welcomed Cooper onstage and planted a huge kiss on the red-faced reporter's lips.
The newsman turned serious as he gave a nod to all the same-sex rights activists who came before him, saying: "I am only here tonight because I've benefited from what they and so many others have done... being gay is certainly one of the greatest blessings... it opened my head and heart in ways that I never could have predicted."
Previous recipients of the Vito Russo Award include Rosie O'Donnell, Sir Elton John and Tom Ford.