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Jeff Bezos pledges $2.5 million to help same-sex marriage in Washington

July 27, 2012|by Carolyn Kellogg
  • Amazon.com President and CEO Jeff Bezos.
Amazon.com President and CEO Jeff Bezos. (David Paul Morris / Bloomberg )

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, have pledged $2.5 million in support of Referendum 74, a Washington state ballot measure that seeks to affirm same-sex marriage with voters. Washington's Legislature passed a same-sex marriage law in February.

The Bezoses' gift doubles the funds available to proponents of the same-sex referendum, the N.Y. Times reports. "To get this from a straight, married couple sends a powerful message that marriage is seen as a fundamental question of fairness,” Zach Silk, the campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage, told the paper.

According to the report, Bezos was approached by Jennifer Cast, one of Amazon's earliest employees, who left the company in 2001. Cast, a lesbian mother of four who is now a fundraiser for the same-sex marriage campaign. “Jeff, I suspect you support marriage equality," she wrote in an email. "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, saying that the Bezoses would donate $2.5 million. That doubles the amount of funds currently available to the campaign in support of same-sex marriage.

The $2.5-million donation makes the Bezos among the largest financial supporters of same-sex marriage in the country. Jeff Bezos' worth is estimated by Forbes to be $18.4 billion.

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