Jay-Z and Will Smith

Will Smith and Jay-Z, two of the entertainment world’s biggest African American stars, have come out in support of President Barack Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage.

Speaking in Berlin on Monday while promoting his new film Men in Black III, Smith praised Obama for backing marriage equality, an act that he called “brave” considering that it is an election year for the president.

“If anybody can find someone to love them and to help them through this difficult thing that we call life, I support that in any shape or form,” the actor told reporters.

As of 2011, Smith’s films have grossed $5.7 billion in global box office and he has won multiple Grammy Awards.

Superstar rapper and producer Jay-Z also spoke about same-sex marriage in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Monday.

“I’ve always thought [of] it as something that’s still holding the country back,” he said. “What people do in their own homes is their business. It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.”

Jay-Z, who married singer Beyoncé Knowles in 2008, has sold around 50 million albums worldwide. In 2009 he was ranked as the 10th most successful artist of the 2000s by Billboard.

The comments by Smith and Jay-Z are significant as the issue of same-sex marriage is a divisive one within the African American community in America.

A number of leaders of black churches in the U.S. have criticised Obama’s position on the issue and recent polls have shown that 49% of African Americans are opposed to same-sex marriage compared to 43% of white Americans.

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