President Barack Obama will get the opportunity to repeat his support for same-sex marriage at top-dollar fundraisers with George Clooney Thursday night in Los Angeles and with Ricky Martin in New York City Monday, the former which is expected to rake in millions of dollars.
The fundraiser at Clooney's home brings Obama to Hollywood, where some of the president's wealthiest donors, and some of the wealthiest backers of same-sex marriage, reside. Obama's campaign spent two weeks advertising the gala in emails to supporters by offering the chance to win tickets with small donations. Politico reported that, according to two sources, more than half of the estimated $14 million raised came from the raffle. About 150 donors paid $40,000 each for a seat at a table, where they will be fed dishes created by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.
In New York City on Monday, the Obama for America LGBT Leadership Council is joining forces with the Futuro Fun, a political Latino nonprofit, for an intimate reception at the beautiful Rubin Museum of Art, according to the Today show. The celebrity host, singer Ricky Martin, is openly gay and an LGBT activist.
Tickets for the Ricky Martin event are reportedly selling between $5,000 for guest seats and $35,800 for a chair, which includes a private reception and photo op.
Obama's administration has long championed LGBT rights, repealing the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell and refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. The LGBT Leadership Council was set up in 2007 to bring together Obama supporters and LGBT activists. These fundraisers, however, are particularly timely given Obama's historic announcement Wednesday.
The events come after Obama gave his support for same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts after evolving on the issue for some time. The interview was preceded by comments by Vice President Joe Biden on Meet the Press Sunday morning, in which the vice president said he was comfortable with the idea of same-sex couples marrying.
I've just concluded that for me personally it is important to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couple should be able to get married, Obama said Wednesday, stressing that he still believes legalizing gay marriage should be up to the states.
In the same interview, Obama insisted his comments were not a political move and said he even considered that in this electoral map - it may hurt me. (Polls show that voters in the swing states of North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Florida believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.)
At the same time, however, Obama's statement could be beneficial to his re-election effort by, for example, bringing in more cash to his campaign. The Washington Post recently reported that about one in six of Obama's top bundlers is gay. Obama re-election bundler Jon Cooper told Capital New York that the president's expressing his personal support for same-sex marriage is going to make my life immeasurably easier raising money from LGBT donors and progressives in general.
In an op-ed at the conservative blog RedState.com. Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus criticized the president for hobnobbing with the Hollywood glitterati for their cash.
He's pitched movies to mogul Harvey Weinstein. He had Davis Guggenheim direct a documentary on his first term. He even hosted a secret 'Alice in Wonderland' costume ball at the White House, decorated by Tim Burton and featuring Johnny Depp, Priebus wrote. But, most notably, he's taken their money - so much of their money. ... With middle class Americans reeling from the effects of Obama's failed leadership, not even Hollywood magic can cover up the truth.
Obama has often attracted the attention of high-profile celebrities in music, fashion and film. In February, Marc Jacobs, Derek Lam and other big designers created a clothing line to raise money for his campaign. Scarlett Johansson and Anna Wintour hosted the event launching Runway to Win.