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Gay marriage advocates in Washington state have found some very helpful friends in Amazon's billionaire founder and his wife.
The New York Times reports that Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos have pledged $2.5 million to help pass the state's November ballot initiative legalizing same-sex marriage, a sum that places the pair "among the largest financial backers of gay marriage rights in the country" and one that doubles the money available to the proponents of Referendum 74.
The paper explains that a former Amazon employee who is now the fundraising chair of the pro-referendum effort emailed Jeff Bezos this past Sunday asking for a donation between $100,000 and $200,000. She wrote about the difficulty she faced as a young lesbian, wanting to marry her longtime partner, and needing the support of straight people. Bezos' response came two days later with his pledge: "This is right for so many reasons," he wrote.
A bill legalizing same-sex marriage was not only passed by the legislature but was also signed by the governor in February, but a petition led to the voter referendum, and the law will only come into effect if upheld by the November vote. None of the six states that have legalized same-sex marriage have done so through a public vote, but Washington could be the first.
The president of the world’s largest online retailer is worth $20.5 billion according to the most recent Bloomberg Billionaire Index. Bill Gates and Steven A. Ballmer have reportedly each given $100,000 to the referendum campaign.