* "We think it's the largest ever" contribution
* Issue on the ballot this November
By Elaine Porterfield
SEATTLE, July 27 Amazon Inc founder
Jeff Bezos and his wife have made what may be the biggest
donation to the cause of gay marriage, contributing $2.5
million to a Washington state campaign to legalize same-sex
nuptials there, the campaign said on Friday.
The donation to Washington United for Marriage comes as the
question of deep-pocketed executives taking a stance on gay
marriage has risen in prominence, with the mounting controversy
over the president of Chick-fil-A's public opposition to
Bezos, who is chief executive of Amazon, and his wife,
MacKenzie, h ad until now kept a lower profile on charitable and
political contributions than other prominent high-tech
billionaires in Washington state, such as Microsoft co-founder
Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda.
Andy Grow, a spokesman for Washington United for Marriage,
said his group had checked with other campaigns and gay rights
advocates were not aware of a larger donation.
"We think that it's the largest ever," he said of the Bezos'
Washington United for Marriage is campaigning for Referendum
74, which if approved would affirm a law that passed the
Democratic-led state Legislature in February and would have
legalized gay marriage. The law was blocked from taking effect
when opponents gathered enough signatures to put it on the
"This is a history-making gift," Washington United for
Marriage campaign manager Zach Silk said of the Bezos donation.
"I think it shows our goal of standing up for all Washington
families is shared by many people, including Jeff Bezos and his
wife," Silk said.
Gates, along with current Microsoft Chief Executive
Steve Ballmer, earlier donated $100,000 to the Washington United
for Marriage referendum campaign.
A representative for Preserve Marriage Washington, the group
opposed to same-sex marriage in the state, could not be reached
That group has raised $253,000, according to figures on the
website of the Washington state Public Disclosure Commission.
Before the donation from the Bezos, Washington United for
Marriage had pulled in nearly $2.5 million, the commission
A poll last month by Public Policy Polling found 51 percent
of Washington state voters supported gay marriage, while 42
percent believed it should be illegal and 7 percent were
Currently, six states and the District of Columbia allow
Silk said his campaign's volunteer finance chair, Jennifer
Cast, sent the Bezos an email last weekend seeking their
support. Cast, who is a lesbian and was a senior manager at
Amazon for more than seven years, knows the couple personally.
In the email, Silk said Cast wrote to the couple: "We need
help from straight people. To be very frank, we need help from
wealthy straight people who care about us and who want to help
On the other side of the issue, gay rights advocates and
some local politicians have in recent weeks taken aim at
fast-food chain Chick-fil-A and its president, Dan Cathy, after
he told the Baptist Press his company supported the "biblical
definition of the family unit." Same-sex couples across the
country plan a kiss-in at Chick-fil-A restaurants on Aug. 3.