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Obama shift on gay marriage unleashes Hollywood's star power (+video)

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The payoff has begun immediately, with iconic TV producer Norman Lear announcing that after withholding support for Obama’s reelection, he and his wife will pony up $40,000 each for the night’s festivities.

Openly gay Latino superstar Ricky Martin announced Wednesday that he will host a fundraiser on May 14 in New York, saying in a statement quoted on the Broadway world site, "I believe Barack Obama has shown a deep conviction to help those most in need, even if their voices are not always the ones heard the loudest in Washington.”

He went on to say that Obama “has also been an exceptionally strong advocate for the Latino and LGBT communities, leading us to precedent-setting milestones such as the appointment of the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. … I believe the president has put the United States back on the right path and has earned the opportunity to finish the critical work that he has started."

While it is easy to scoff at celebrities-as-politicos, it’s important not to underestimate their reach, says Rich Ferraro, a spokesman for the gay rights advocacy group, GLAAD. “They are influencers of the larger culture,” he says, “and when popular entertainers support an issue or a candidate, their   exposure matters.”

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