By Jeff Mason

LOS ANGELES -- President Barack Obama called his endorsement of same-sex marriage a "logical extension" of his vision for the country on Thursday during a glitzy campaign fundraiser at the home of movie star George Clooney that raised nearly $15 million.

Obama, a Democrat, said on Wednesday he believes gay and lesbian couples should be able to wed, a shift in position that excited his political base around the country and spurred donations to his campaign.

"Obviously yesterday, we made some news," Obama said to applause from a crowd of 150 people who paid $40,000 a ticket to see the president at the Oscar-winning actor's home.

"But the truth is it was the logical extension of what America's supposed to be. It grew directly out of this difference in visions. Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly," he said.

Obama's campaign has contrasted Obama's newly evolved position on the issue with Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who opposes gay marriage.

The issue was especially resonant in California, where many famous actors and actresses support legalizing gay marriage. Barbra Streisand, Salma Hayek, Tobey Maguire and Jack Black were among the high-profile stars who dined at tables set up on Clooney's basketball court.

At an earlier fundraiser in Seattle, Obama drew cheers for his line that Americans should be able to succeed "no matter who we are, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, no matter what your last name, no matter who you love."

He picked up the theme of gay rights, saying citizens of Washington state would have a chance to influence the issue.

"Here in Washington you'll have the chance to make your voice heard on the issue of making sure that everybody, regardless of sexual orientation, is treated fairly," Obama said to loud applause.

Washington state lawmakers have passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage but opponents are pushing for a referendum to allow voters to decide the matter and are on their way to gathering enough signatures to get the referendum onto the ballot.

CLOONEY MANIA

Obama's campaign revved up supporters with teasers about Clooney, encouraging fans to donate as little as $3 online for a chance to dine with the Oscar-winning actor and the president in Los Angeles.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation and a major fundraiser for Obama's campaign, said the Clooney event raised nearly $15 million for Obama and his fellow Democrats. A campaign official declined to confirm that figure.

"We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George. They like me, they love him. And rightfully so," Obama said.

Obama noted that a now-famous "Hope" poster with his image from the 2008 presidential campaign was based on a photograph of both Obama and Clooney.

"This is the first time that George Clooney has ever been photo-shopped out of a picture," he said. "Never happened before, will never happen again."

More than half of the huge fundraising haul came from small-amount donors who entered a raffle to win tickets to the dinner.

The winners were Beth Topinka, a science teacher from New Jersey, and Karen Blutcher, who works at a public utility company in Florida.

Obama's support of gay marriage could help boost donations from supporters in his Democratic base who have been pressing him to make clear his position, which he had long described as "evolving."

Obama's Chicago-based campaign released a video about gay rights and issued an email in the president's name discussing his decision and encouraging supporters to make a donation.

At his first fundraiser in Seattle, Obama did not address same-sex marriage in his introductory remarks to a luncheon with 70 supporters who paid $17,900 each to attend. That event was expected to gross $1.25 million.

Musician Dave Matthews performed at a second and larger Seattle event, where 1,800 guests paid at least $1,000 per ticket, which could bring in another $1.8 million or more. Proceeds from all of the fundraisers will go to Obama's campaign as well as Democratic party funds.

Obama has spent months raising money for his re-election to build a huge war chest to fight Romney for the White House in the Nov. 6 election.

(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Vicki Allen)

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

Below, pictures of the First Family with celebrities:
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  • George Clooney & President Obama

    Actor George Clooney leaves after he spoke to the media March 15, 2012 at the White House in Washington, DC. Clooney had meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss the current situations in Darfur, Sudan. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

  • President Obama & Tyler Perry

    Actor and director Tyler Perry hugs US President Barack Obama during a campaign event at Tyler Perry Studios March 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. President Obama is spending the day traveling to Chicago, Illinois and Atlanta, Georgia to attend private and public campaign events. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

  • The Obamas & Oprah Winfrey

    US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama chat with talk show host Oprah Winfrey during a taping of the Oprah Winfrey show April 27, 2011 at Harpo Studios in Chicago. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • President Obama & Magic Johnson

    In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, President Barack Obama is greeted on the court by NBA Hall of Fame basketball player Earvin 'Magic' Johnson and Michigan State University assistant coach Mike Garland. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

  • Willow Smith Performs At The White House

    Willow Smith, daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smitt, performs during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House on April 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images)

  • Antonio Banderas & President Obama

    Antonio Banderas and his wife Melanie Griffith hosted a fundraising event for President Obama in October 2011. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

  • Tom Hanks Narrates Pro-Obama Film

    This 17-minute film released by President Obama's re-election campaign was directed by Davis Guggenheim (director of "An Inconvenient Truth") and narrated by actor Tom Hanks.

  • Gov. Mitt Romney & Jeff Foxworthy

    Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney makes a campaign appearance with comedian Jeff Foxworthy at the Whistle Stop cafe March 12, 2012 in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • Gov. Mitt Romney & Kid Rock

    Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets musician Kid Rock during a campaign rally at the Royal Oak Theatre on February 27, 2012 in Royal Oak, Michigan. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • David Mustaine & Rick Santorum

    David Mustaine of Megadeth expressed support for Rick Santorum in a February <a href="http://www.musicradar.com/news/live/interview-megadeths-dave-mustaine-talks-guitar-politics-and-todays-music-529703" target="_hplink">interview with Music Radar</a>.

  • Kelly Clarkson & Ron Paul

    Kelly Clarkson tweeted about her love for Ron Paul in late 2011, but dialed it back slightly after a backlash accused her of supporting Paul's racist and homophobic publications, <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/03/09/kelly-clarkson-never-endorsed-ron-paul/" target="_hplink">reports Fox News</a>. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Snoop Dogg & Ron Paul

    In December 2011, Snoop Dogg posted a picture of Ron Paul on his Facebook page with the caption "Smoke Weed Every Day," <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/us-snoopdogg-ronpaul-idUSTRE80U04220120131" target="_hplink">reports Reuters</a>. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive)

  • Oliver Stone & Ron Paul

    In January, Oliver Stone told <a href="http://www.rockcellarmagazine.com/2012/01/12/director-oliver-stone-on-history-and-america-jim-morrison-ron-paul/" target="_hplink">Rock Cellar Magazine</a> that he would vote for Ron Paul over Barack Obama if Paul was named the GOP nominee because "he's the only one of anybody who's saying anything intelligent about the future of the world." (Photo by Stephen Morton/Getty Images)