Obama Gay Marriage

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama on Monday could add more insight into his decision last week to support same-sex marriage when he holds fundraisers in New York with entertainment industry headliners and tapes an appearance on the program, "The View," where he's expected to discuss this issue.

While in Manhattan, the president is also set to deliver the commencement address at Barnard College, the all-women's school and sister institution of Columbia University, Obama's alma matter.

The president will receive the Barnard Medal of Distinction, an award also to be given onstage to gay rights advocate Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. Wolfson has been outspoken in urging the president to endorse marriage equality, even in the days leading up to Obama's announcement last week.

The setting provides a platform for the president to further discuss his positions on same-sex marriage and issues important to women -- both hot-button topics this election cycle.

Some White House officials have said that Obama initially intended to reveal his opinion on same-sex marriage during his appearance on "The View" this week, but Vice President Joe Biden's comments on a talk show last Sunday supporting same-sex marriage pushed the president to make an announcement sooner.

Obama's commencement speech comes just two days after Republican rival Mitt Romney gave a commencement address at the evangelical Liberty University in Virginia, where he made social issues a main theme of his remarks and touched on the marriage storyline.

"Culture matters. As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate," Romney said. "So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman."

Later Monday evening, the president will attend a big-money fundraiser in Manhattan hosted by singer Ricky Martin, who announced he was gay two years ago, and sponsored in part by the LGBT Leadership Council. While the event gives Obama a chance to speak more freely on the topic, he may still face questions over his stance that same-sex marriage decisions should be left to the states.

Roughly 200 people are expected to attend the event, with tickets starting at $5,000.

Obama will also stop at a fundraising dinner at a private residence with 60 people, hosted by Tony James of the Blackstone Group, an alternative asset management and financial services company. Tickets for that event cost $35,800.

Proceeds from both events will go to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee for the president's re-election campaign, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.

While the full political implications of the president's same-sex marriage verdict remain to be seen, Gallup released a poll Friday showing 51% of Americans approve of Obama's support for gay couples to marry, while 45% disapprove. The survey was conducted entirely after he announced his endorsement in an ABC News interview on Wednesday.

And a new Gallup poll out Monday gave further details into American attitudes on the topic. While 50% approve of same-sex marriage, a further breakdown of the numbers shows a significant gender gap: Fifty-six percent of women say couples of the same gender should be legally allowed to marry, but 42% of men feel the same way.

The issue became prime political fodder over the weekend, with several high-profile Republicans pouncing on the president's remarks.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, son of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, said he "wasn't sure that (Obama's) views on marriage could get any gayer," sparking laughs on Friday among his audience at an event held by Iowa's Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Meanwhile, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also made headlines when he said Sunday that same-sex marriage was not a "matter of civil rights."

"I think it's just a matter of whether or not we're going to adhere to something that's been historical and religious and legal in this country for many, many years," Priebus said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I mean, marriage has to have a definition, and we just happen to believe it's between a man and woman."

On Monday, Romney takes the day off from the trail, but his campaign is still playing defense after Obama's campaign released a biting new ad attacking the former Massachusetts governor over his time at the private equity firm Bain Capital.

The two-minute television spot -- to be released in major battleground states -- features former steelworkers talking about their job losses after Bain took over their company, GST Steel.

Another steelworker in the ad compares Bain to a "vampire."

"They came in and sucked the life out of us," he said. "It was like watching an old friend bleed to death."

The commercial re-establishes a major campaign hurdle Romney faced in the primary, when two of his former GOP rivals, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich -- accused Romney of being out of touch due to his lucrative tenure at Bain, which he helped found in 1984.

Romney's campaign spokesman Andrea Saul responded to the ad Monday saying the campaign would "welcome the Obama campaign's attempt to pivot back to jobs and a discussion of their failed record. Mitt Romney helped create more jobs in his private sector experience and more jobs as Governor of Massachusetts than President Obama has for the entire nation."


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