President Obama says his support for marriage equality is “a logical extension of what America is supposed to be.”
He made the statement at a star-studded fund-raising event at actor George Clooney’s home in Los Angeles Thursday night. According to an official White House transcript, he said, to applause, “Obviously yesterday we made some news,” then added, “but the truth is 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 gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly, and is that going to make us stronger? Are we welcoming to immigrants? Are we welcoming to people who aren’t like us? Does that make us stronger? I believe it does.”
DreamWorks animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg, who helped organize the event, introduced the president by referring to the marriage equality statement, saying, “Yesterday he did the right thing yet again,” according to the pool of journalists attending the event.
The party raised $15 million for Obama’s reelection campaign, believed to be the largest amount ever raised by a campaign in a single night, the Los Angeles Times reports. It represents a combination of attendees’ fees and an online sweepstakes.
Guests paid $40,000 each to attend; celebrities present reportedly included Tobey Maguire, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Salma Hayek, Barbra Streisand, and James Brolin. Politicos in attendance included Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Congressman Howard Berman. Also among the guests were two women, one from New Jersey, one from Florida, who won the online sweepstakes for tickets to the event, accompanied by their husbands.
Obama was greeted by activists grateful for his marriage endorsement in Los Angeles and in an earlier stop in Seattle. Among those holding signs in L.A. were Dan Fatou of GetEqual, who told the Los Angeles Times, “We thank him for his support of equal rights in marriage, but we need him to do more.” In Seattle, they included a mother holding an infant and a sign that read, “Thank You! Mr. President for standing up for my Mommys.”
LGBT leaders in Washington State said they thought the president’s statement would be helpful to those fighting repeal of the state’s recently enacted marriage equality law. “When you have the president of the United States come out in favor of your issue, it’s hard not to be energized,” state representative Jim Moeller, who is gay, told The Columbian.