Celebrities come out for gay marriage

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For weeks, Hollywood had been criticized for not contributing enough to defeat a ballot initiative in California that would ban same-sex marriage. Now, members of the film and TV industries are sweeping in to preserve gays’ right to get hitched.

Maybe they were planning for a Hollywood ending all along?

After news of Proposition 8’s supporters outraising its opponents spread and the measure gained support in public opinion polls, many Hollywood insiders have made declarations of support — financial and otherwise — against the ban. While the ‘‘No on 8’’ campaign hasn’t quite reached the buzziness of other celebrity causes du jour, momentum is growing.

‘‘The entertainment industry is obviously an important donor base,’’ said Chad Griffin, a political strategist for the campaign. ‘‘It’s an industry that’s often stood up against discrimination. This particular initiative writes discrimination into the constitution. I think it’s something most fair-minded people, celebrities or otherwise, are outraged about.’’

Leading the Hollywood outreach is Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen, who wed art consultant Gabriel Catone in a ceremony officiated by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in June. The ‘‘American Beauty’’ and ‘‘Pushing Daisies’’ producer dug deep into his contacts to ask for their support against the initiative. Cohen’s biggest get? Stephen Spielberg.

‘‘Stephen’s been an incredible supporter of me, both personally and professionally, so I called him and told him how much this has meant to me and Gabe,’’ said Cohen, who worked with the director on ‘‘The Color Purple’’ in 1985. ‘‘When he told me that he and Kate Capshaw were giving a $100,000 contribution, I was so moved and thankful.’’

Since same-sex marriage became legal in California in June, at least 11,000 couples have exchanged vows statewide, according to the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy based at the University of California, Los Angeles. Among those couples were Ellen DeGeneres and actress Portia de Rossi, who married in August.

The talk show host recently made a public service announcement urging voters to oppose the ballot initiative and purchased $100,000 of television commercial time for her ad.

‘‘I don’t know what people are scared of,’’ DeGeneres joked on her show Wednesday. ‘‘Maybe they think their children will be influenced [by gay marriage], but I’ve got to tell you, I was raised by two heterosexuals. Everywhere I looked — heterosexuals. And they did not influence me. It’s time we love people for who they are and let them love who they want.’’

Stars as big as Brad Pitt — and as small as ‘‘NCIS’’ actress Pauley Perrette — have also donated their own cash to defeat Proposition 8 in California, according to state records.

Read the full story from the Chicago Sun-Times.


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