"Milk" screenwriter: Obama saved lives

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Actress Jennifer Connelly and writer/director Dustin Lance Black attend the after party for a screening of "Virginia" hosted by The Cinema Society & Shiseido With Grey Goose at on May 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Stephen Lovekin

(CBS) Some of  Hollywood's biggest stars,  from Jay-Z  to Betty White, have  been  supportive of  President Obama in the week since  he first  publicly declared his support for same-sex marriage.

But perhaps none spoke about it as movingly as Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter behind films such as 2008's "Milk" and Clint Eastwood's "J. Edgar." Black is a founding member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and the writer of "8," a staged re-enactment of the federal trial that led to an appellate court's overturn of California's Proposition 8.

Pictures: All-star reading of script for "8"
Read more: Lynch "Moved" by Obama's same-sex marriage stance

Just  a week and a half ago, Black had publicly voiced his outrage with the president's then-murky position on same sex marriage.

But, when we caught up with him this week in New York at a screening of "Virginia" (his new dark-comedy starring Jennifer Connelly), the president  had clarified his views  and Black was singing a different tune.

"I think the timing was so critical," Black told us. "On the heels of North Carolina, the message that was sent to young gay and lesbian people that their lives were not valued, that was countered by a much stronger voice. I think the president actually saved lives by making the announcement when he did."

He was referring to a referendum last week in North Carolina in which voters approved a ban on same-sex marriages.

Black was hardly alone in his support of the president.

"Thank you President @BarackObama for your beautiful and brave words. I'm overwhelmed," tweeted talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres following the president's announcement. During a press conference in Germany for his new film "Men in Black III," Will Smith said, "I would absolutely vote for Barack Obama. I just think it was hugely aggressive and brave for him to take that stand in an election year."

Among the others who have tweeted on this topic were rapper Jay-Z, reality TV stars Kim Kardashian and Ramona Singer, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons; and stylist Rachel Zoe.

TV star Betty White didn't mention the same-sex marriage issue specifically, but she did tell the Associated Press this week he likes the way the president "represents us."

While the full political fallout still remains to be seen, Mr. Obama can certainly count on the support of some prominent entertainers come November.

"Virginia" opens in select theaters on May 18.

Watch our interview with Black by clicking on the video at the top of this story.

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    Ken Lombardi is an entertainment reporter for CBS News. He has interviewed over 300 celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.