SEATTLE — Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, have donated $2.5 million to support the marriage equality coalition in Washington state.
Zach Silk, campaign manager for the coalition, Washington United for Marriage, called the donation “extraordinary,” and said it roughly doubles WUM’s budget.
“It is believed to be the largest individual gift in the country to secure or protect the freedom to marry. With the Bezos’ gift, WUM has now raised over $5 million towards its broad, statewide campaign to approve Referendum 74 in November,” Silk said, in a statement.
“I am thrilled by Jeff and MacKenzie’s staggeringly generous donation,” said Jennifer Cast, who serves as WUM’s volunteer finance co-chair and spent over seven years in various senior positions at Amazon.com.
“Their support of our efforts to approve R74 comes at an important time and will have great impact. I am deeply grateful to both of them as this donation is going to help us make history,” said Cast.
Bezos joins Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and co-founder Bill Gates, and companies including Starbucks and Nike, in their support of Washington’s recently passed marriage equality law.
“The extraordinary contribution from Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos will make an enormous difference for our campaign to defend Washington’s marriage law,” said Silk. “While it provides an amazing base for the work ahead, we hope it spurs others to invest because we’re a long way from November and we face opponents with deep pockets who are committed to spending millions to defeat us.”
According to Public Disclose Commission records, Preserve Marriage Washington — the group opposing same-sex marriage — has raised only $253,000.
Washington is one of four states with with same-sex marriage measures on the ballot this November. Washington and Maryland both legalized same-sex marriage this year, but will also have public referendums this fall.
In Maine, voters will decide on an initiative to approve same-sex marriage three years after voters overturned a state law. And in Minnesota, voters will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.