President Obama Talks Gay Marriage on 'The View', at Fundraiser with Ricky Martin, Eva Longoria

3:53 PM PST 05/14/2012 by Jordan Zakarin
Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

Looking to distinguish himself from presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, Obama discussed his evolution on the issue during a taping of the talk show Monday and then later in the day at a high-profile event.

They descended on Manhattan on Monday, with splashy events meant to preview and sell their big fall campaigns. With the world watching, both the top TV networks -- at upfronts -- and President Obama -- all over Manhattan -- made their pitches.

For Obama, the day began early with a speech to students at the all-women's Barnard College, a sister school to his alma matter, Columbia University. From there he traveled down the west side of Manhattan to ABC studios, where he sat with the hosts of The View for an interview that is set to air on Tuesday.

"This is going to be a big contrast in the campaign because you’ve got Governor Romney saying we should actually have a constitutional amendment installing the notion that you can’t have same-sex marriages,” he said, in a preview released by the network. Marriage equality was the big theme of his day, following his announcement last Wednesday that he now supports same-sex weddings.

Telling co-host Barbara Walters that he did not think the Defense of Marriage Act was constitutional, he added, “This is something that historically had been determined at the state level and part of my believing ultimately that civil unions weren’t sufficient, and I’ve been a longtime supporter of civil unions for same sex couples, was partly because of the issue of social security benefits and other laws."

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After the taping, Obama made his way further down the west side to the Rubin Museum of Art in the Flatiron District, where he spoke at a fundraiser hosted by Ricky Martin, who is currently starring in Broadway's revival of Evita.

"We admire his courage, like the courage he showed last week in affirming his belief in marriage equality," Martin told about 200 guests -- including campaign surrogate Eva Longoria -- who paid $5000 each to attend. "That is the kind of courage we expect from our president and that is why we support him."

Obama praised Martin's activism -- as well as his performance on Broadway -- and then spoke again about gay marriage, which was couched within his standard stump speech, with mentions of the economy, reviving the auto industry, making strides in clean energy and winding down the war in Iraq.

"My views last week about marriage equality," he said. "I want everyone treated fairly in this country. We have never gone wrong when we've extended rights and responsibilities to everybody. That doesn't weaken families, that strengthens families."

After the Rubin Museum event, the president attended a $35,800-per-person fundraiser at the residence of Hamilton “Tony” James, president and COO of Blackstone Group, a large private equity firm.

About 60 guests -- men in suits and women in dresses and pant suits -- were seated around elegant dinner tables, according to a pool report. James introduced the president: "“The belief that anyone can move up and the best is ahead of us is what defines Americans and what defines America. … That belief gives us cohesion.”

Tailoring his remarks to the financial crowd, Obama said: “I believe the free market is the greatest wealth generator devised by man. … Risk takers and innovators should be rewarded… We all benefit from free-enterprise. … But if you look at our history , what makes our markets work and allows us to pursue our individual dreams, there are some things we’ve done in concert.”

Email: Jordan.Zakarin@THR.com; Twitter: @JordanZakarin

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