By Anna Peirano
Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie have agreed to donate $2.5 million to help pass same-sex marriage in Washington State. With this donation, they become the biggest financial backers supporting same-sex marriage in the country, beating out Bill Gates and Steven A. Ballmer of Microsoft, who each gave $100,000 to the campaign earlier this year.
Proponents of the effort in Washington called it a game-changing gift that gives them a fighting chance in November, reports the New York Times.
“To get this from a straight, married couple sends a powerful message that marriage is seen as a fundamental question of fairness,” said Zach Silk, the campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage.
In the vein of complicated politics surrounding the issue, same-sex marriage was legalized by Washington’s Legislature in February. But opponents of the movement collected enough signatures to require that the legislation be put in the hands of voters.
Bezos was approached by a former employee, Jennifer Cast, who is a lesbian mother of four children and now sits as a fund-raising charwoman of the pro-referendum effort.
She sent him an email on Sunday, saying, “I want to have the right to marry the love of my life and to let my children and grandchildren know their family is honored like a ‘real’ family. We need help from straight people. To be very frank, we need help from wealthy straight people who care out us and who want to help us win.” She asked him in the email to donate between $100,000 and $200,000. “Jeff, I suspect you support marriage equality. I beg you not to sit on the sidelines and hope the vote goes our way. Help us make it so.”
Two days later, she received a reply.
“Jen, this is right for so many reasons. We’re in for $2.5 million. Jeff & MacKenzie.”