Obama’s Celebrity Friends Rally Hollywood’s Gay Community
Los Angeles. President Obama made his second campaign stop in Los Angeles in as many months on Wednesday, capitalizing on the goodwill he gained from his recent marriage-equality endorsement with two fundraisers geared toward the LGBT community.
The first event drew around 600 supporters to the Beverly Wilshire hotel, while the second was a much smaller affair at the Beverly Hills home of “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy.
At the Beverly Wilshire, the president stressed the progress his administration made over his first term and cased out the challenges ahead. “I could not be prouder of the work that we’ve done on behalf of the LGBT community,” Obama said, following a series of opening acts and a boisterous standing ovation.
During his half-hour speech, the president blended familiar campaign slogans from 2008 with themes targeting his audience’s interests. He recalled a memorable workout at a Marine base in Hawaii during which several Marines paused to thank him for ending the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
“I tell that story so that if anybody out there asks you what this campaign’s about, you tell ‘em it’s still about hope and change,” he said.
Obama also predicted that he would be taken to task, as he makes another play for the presidency, for the ongoing economic challenges Americans have faced since he took office. “The good news is, it turns out that Americans are tougher than tough times,” he said.
Before the president took the stage, “Glee” star Darrin Criss was on hand to warm up the crowd, along with Ellen DeGeneres, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and California Attorney General Kamala Harris, among others.
Peter Roth, CEO of Warner Bros. Television; Dana Perlman, co-chair of the LGBT Leadership Council; Chad Griffin, incoming president of the Human Rights Campaign and “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson showed up at the Beverly Wilshire. And fittingly, Cher was also spotted there.
Obama told his story of the grateful Marines again at his next stop, an intimate fund-raiser at the home of “Glee” creator Murphy and fiancé David Miller in Beverly Hills.
“I will not be singing tonight,” the president joked following his host’s introduction, as roughly 70 guests gathered at tables arranged around a fountain in Murphy’s courtyard.
“A whole lot of progress has been made but … you recognize that the journey we started in 2008 isn’t finished” Obama said, calling for supporters to drum up “even greater determination” than they did four years ago.
Guests at the second event included Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon, “Glee” actress Jane Lynch, Banana Republic/Gap Inc. president Jack Calhoun, and HBO executive Michael Lombardo, according to the White House pool report.
These two latest Hollywood-heavy events follow on the heels of Obama’s hugely successful May 10 fund-raiser at George Clooney’s Studio City home, which raised $15 million for the president’s re-election campaign.