Elections 2012: President Obama Talks Gay Rights at $15M Clooney Fundraiser

President Obama talked gay rights on Thursday at a star-studded fund-raiser in Hollywood, saying it was part of “what America is supposed to be.”

Delivering a speech, President also paid warm tribute to his host, while poking gentle fun at the A-list actor. Photo: obama photos/Flickr

Speaking at a dinner at George Clooney’s home, Mr Obama raised the issue gay marriage, saying simply to enthusiastic applause: “Obviously, yesterday we made some news.”

“It was a logical extension of what America is supposed to be,” he continued. “It grew directly out of this difference in visions: Are we a country that includes everybody and give everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly?”

He went on: “Are we welcoming to immigrants? Are we welcoming to people who aren’t like us, does that make us stronger? I believe it does. So that’s what’s at stake.”

In his speech President Obama paid tribute to the host, and to DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg who organised the fund-raiser, writes The Telegraph.

“I want to thank Clooney for letting us use his basketball court. This man has been talking smack about his basketball game, ever since I’ve known him,” he said.

Referred to the semi-iconic “Hope” poster from 2008 by Shepard Fairey, Obama said: “People don’t realise that the photograph of me is actually me sitting next to George,” who was advocating on behalf of Darfur.

“We struck up a friendship. This is the first time that George Clooney has actually been photoshopped out of a picture,” he quipped, to big laughs. “Never happened before, will never happen again,” he added.

Obama also revealed that, actually, Fairey did a poster for Clooney with both men on the same picture, “Why he said at the bottom, ‘dope and hope,’ I don’t know”, he joked.

“We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George. They like me, they love him. And rightfully so. Not only is he an unbelievable actor, but he is one of those rare individuals who is at ease with everybody, he seems to occupy a constant state of grace, and uses his extraordinary talents on behalf of something truly important.”

According to Reuters, more than half of the huge fundraising haul came from small-amount donors who entered a raffle to win tickets to the dinner.

The winners were Beth Topinka, a science teacher, New Jersey, and Karen Blutcher, who works at a public utility company based in Florida.

Obama’s Chicago-based campaign has released a video about gay rights and an email in the president’s name discussing his decision and encouraging supporters to make a donation.

At his first fundraiser which was held in Seattle, President Obama did not mention same-sex marriage topic in his introductory remarks to a luncheon with 70 supporters who paid $17,900 each to attend. That event was expected to gather $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’s campaign has spent months raising money for his re-election to build a huge war chest to fight Romney for the White House in the November 6 election.

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