* Same-sex marriage stance plays well with Hollywood crowd
* Guest list includes Salma Hayek, Tobey Maguire, Jack Black
* Dave Matthews performs at one of two Seattle fundraisers
(adds quotes from Obama)
By Jeff Mason
LOS ANGELES, May 10 President Barack Obama
called his endorsement of same-sex marriage a "logical
extension" of his vision for the country on Thursday during a
glitzy campaign fundraiser at the home of movie star George
Clooney that raised nearly $15 million.
Obama, a Democrat, said on Wednesday he believes gay and
lesbian couples should be able to wed, a shift in position that
excited his political base around the country and spurred
donations to his campaign.
"Obviously yesterday, we made some news," Obama said to
applause from a crowd of 150 people who paid $40,000 a ticket to
see the president at the Oscar-winning actor's home.
"But the truth is it was the logical extension of what
America's supposed to be. It grew directly out of this
difference in visions. Are we a country that includes everybody
and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly," he
Obama's campaign has contrasted Obama's newly evolved
position on the issue with Mitt Romney, the presumptive
Republican presidential nominee who opposes gay marriage.
The issue was especially resonant in California, where many
famous actors and actresses support legalizing gay marriage.
Barbra Streisand, Salma Hayek, Tobey Maguire and Jack Black were
among the high-profile stars who dined at tables set up on
Clooney's basketball court.
At an earlier fundraiser in Seattle, Obama drew cheers for
his line that Americans should be able to succeed "no matter who
we are, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look
like, no matter what your last name, no matter who you love."
He picked up the theme of gay rights, saying citizens of
Washington state would have a chance to influence the issue.
"Here in Washington you'll have the chance to make your
voice heard on the issue of making sure that everybody,
regardless of sexual orientation, is treated fairly," Obama
said to loud applause.
Washington state lawmakers have passed a bill allowing
same-sex marriage but opponents are pushing for a referendum to
allow voters to decide the matter and are on their way to
gathering enough signatures to get the referendum onto the
Obama's campaign revved up supporters with teasers about
Clooney, encouraging fans to donate as little as $3 online for a
chance to dine with the Oscar-winning actor and the president in
Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation and a major
fundraiser for Obama's campaign, said the Clooney event raised
nearly $15 million for Obama and his fellow Democrats. A
campaign official declined to confirm that figure.
"We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George.
They like me, they love him. And rightfully so," Obama said.
Obama noted that a now-famous "Hope" poster with his image
from the 2008 presidential campaign was based on a photograph of
both Obama and Clooney.
"This is the first time that George Clooney has ever been
photo-shopped out of a picture," he said. "Never happened
before, will never happen again."
More than half of the huge fundraising haul came from
small-amount donors who entered a raffle to win tickets to the
The winners were Beth Topinka, a science teacher from New
Jersey, and Karen Blutcher, who works at a public utility
company in Florida.
Obama's support of gay marriage could help boost donations
from supporters in his Democratic base who have been pressing
him to make clear his position, which he had long described as
Obama's Chicago-based campaign released a video about gay
rights and issued an email in the president's name discussing
his decision and encouraging supporters to make a donation.
At his first fundraiser in Seattle, Obama did not address
same-sex marriage in his introductory remarks to a luncheon with
70 supporters who paid $17,900 each to attend. That event was
expected to gross $1.25 million.
Musician Dave Matthews performed at a second and larger
Seattle event, where 1,800 guests paid at least $1,000 per
ticket, which could bring in another $1.8 million or more.
Proceeds from all of the fundraisers will go to Obama's campaign
as well as Democratic party funds.
Obama has spent months raising money for his re-election to
build a huge war chest to fight Romney for the White House in
the Nov. 6 election.
(For complete coverage of the U.S. presidential campaign
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(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing
by Vicki Allen)