While a drama student at Indiana University in 1975, he received the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, sponsored by the Kennedy Center. Butler is openly gay. He came out to his family when he was in his early 20s.
He wrote a one-man show, The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Maine, which played in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and off-Broadway in New York and was Butler"s public coming out.
The play had ten characters "just processing what gay means". Butler performed the show at the same time as he played the ultra macho character Bulldog in the first season of the television show Frasier in 1994.
The performance was nominated for the 1995 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show. Butler is married to producer Richard Waterhouse.
Roseanne as Art (1991–1992)
Frannie"s Turn as Father Anthony (1992)
Frasier as Robert "Bulldog" Briscoe (1993–2004)
Caroline in the City as Kenneth Arabian (1995, 1997)
Hey Arnold! - Voice of Mr.
Simmons/Lila"s Dad (1997–2002)
From the Earth to the Moon as National Aeronautics and Space Administration Flight Director Eugene Kranz (1998)
More Tales of the City as Edward Bass Matheson (1998)
Legal Work as Solinski in episode Blind Trust (1987)
Monsters as David in episode A New Woman (1990)
Quantum Leap as Jake Dorleac in episode Southern Comforts - August 4, 1961 (1991)
Columbo as Sergeant Goodman in episode Number Time to Die (1992)
Life Goes On as Editor in episode Incident on Main (1993)
The Powers That Be as Walt Stevens (1993)
Quantum Leap as Mutta in episode Mirror ImageAugust 8, 1953 (1993)
Picket Fences as Joe Henley in episode Duty Free Rome (1993)
The X-Files as Jim Ausbury in episode Die Hand Die Verletzt (1995)
King of the Hill as voice of Attorney in episode Jumpin" Crack Bass (1997)
Tracey Takes On.. as Priest in episode Religion (1998)
Star Trek: Voyager as Steth in episode Vis à Vis (1998)
Just Shoot Maine! as Bill Slatton in episode Eve of Destruction (1998)
Suddenly Susan as Doctor Richards in episode War Games (1998)
Touched by an Angel as Doctor Ivar Kronenberg in episode Anatomy Lesson (1999)
Ally McBeal as a lawyer, episode Changes (1999)
Crossing Jordan as Arnold Hummer (2002)
American Dreams as Coach Ambros (2002–2003)
Malcolm in the Middle as Norm in episode "Butterflies"
Supernatural as Reverend Sorenson in "Hook Manitoba" (2005)
House as Doctor Weber in "Distractions" (2006)
Monk as Doctor Scott in "Mr. Monk Goes to the Hospital"
Cashmere Mafia as Maxwell Tate in "Yours, Mine, and Hers"
"Til Death as Paul in "Clay Date"
Without a Trace as David Wilkins in The Source"
Blindspot (television series) as Paul Bolton in "Sent On Tour" episode (2015).