Obama's gay marriage stance sets off money rush

WASHINGTON - Since US President Barack Obama's declaration of support for same-sex marriage this week, messages, emails and calls have poured in to Dana Perlman, a major fundraiser for Obama's re-election campaign.

"Everybody wants to do something," said Perlman, a Los Angeles lawyer who is also a top Democratic Party liaison with the gay community.

He is already looking at bigger venues for a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fundraiser for Obama in June that was originally planned for 700 people.

While it is too early to say how much extra cash is being raised, Obama's explicit support of the right for same-sex couples to marry is giving a boost to his campaign's coffers.

But, by the same token, the gay marriage debate is so polarizing for many Americans that it fires up opponents who will now work harder to help Mitt Romney, the likely Republican candidate in November.

"People are calling and asking what more they can do... What's happened is that President Obama made this one of the major issues of the campaign," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage and spent US$1.2 million (S$1.5 million) in North Carolina to help pass a legal ban on same-sex marriage earlier this week.

"This is an issue that goes to the core of who people are. It's emotion-filled but ultimately moves people to do things they wouldn't otherwise do, whether it's join the campaign or donate," Brown said.

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