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Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos and Wife Give $2.5 Million in Support of Same-Sex Marriage

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife Mackenzie have made a $2.5 million donation to secure the freedom to marry for gays and lesbians in Washington State, Washington United for Marriage announced this morning:

WAWashington United for Marriage (WUM), the statewide coalition working to defend the state’s law protecting civil marriage for same-sex couples, today announced an historic, $2.5 million gift from Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos.  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.

“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.”

“The extraordinary contribution from Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos will make an enormous difference for our campaign to defend Washington’s marriage law,” said WUM’s campaign manager, Zach 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.”

CastThe NYT reports on the how the gift came about:

Mr. Bezos was approached via e-mail on Sunday by Jennifer Cast, one of Amazon’s earliest employees and a lesbian mother of four children who is now a fund-raising chairwoman of the pro-referendum effort.

In her e-mail, sent Sunday evening, Ms. Cast, 50, implored Mr. Bezos to understand the importance of the issue to her and her longtime partner.

“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,” Ms. Cast wrote. “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 us win.”

Cast described the pain she had endured as a young gay person and asked for a donation of $100K or $200K but had no idea how Bezos would respond:

“Jeff, I suspect you support marriage equality,” she wrote. “I beg you not to sit on the sidelines and hope the vote goes our way. Help us make it so.”

She hit “send” and waited.

Two days later, on Tuesday, she received a reply while in a car with her family. Recalling that moment, she said she had to read it out loud twice to make sure she had read it right.

“Jen,” the e-mail said, “this is right for so many reasons. We’re in for $2.5 million. Jeff & MacKenzie.”

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Comments

  1. @Dan: This money is being donated to support a single referendum.

    The "big money out of politics" issue that you refer to is Super PACs, which are being used to buy and elect politicians, thus having a wide-ranging impact on government.

    It's a subtle but key difference.

    Posted by: endo | Jul 27, 2012 10:13:46 AM


  2. Bravo, Amazon. And bravo to Jennifer for being out and using her personal story to ask for a donation.

    @Dan: I'm not sure how "anti-gay cities" will deny Amazon anything, but, of course, those who don't support Amazon's decision to donate towards marriage equality are free to stop doing business with them. No doubt the Handful of Moms will be all over this. Amazon is wiling to take that "risk". The only inconsistency here is that Amazon unlike, say, Chick-Fil-A isn't donating to take civil rights away from anyone. They're donating in support of legislation whose sole purpose was to expand civil rights while maintaining religious liberty. Different.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jul 27, 2012 10:16:15 AM


  3. SWEET.....What an amazing and generous gift , as a enthusiastic, dedicated volunteer with the campaign, I know this will go far in helping us secure the Freedom to Marry by APPROVING REF 74!!!! THANK YOU!!!!! We need everyone to GET ENGAGED in our campaign. Please.

    Posted by: steve seattle | Jul 27, 2012 10:19:03 AM


  4. phew! thank god they support us because i would not be able to give up amazon!

    Posted by: Joe | Jul 27, 2012 10:21:47 AM


  5. "But wait, I thought we wanted big money out of politics? I guess it's OK for millions to be donated if you AGREE with the cause. And I assume it will be all right for anti-gay cities to deny Amazon the right to do business in their jurisdictions too?"

    What is this 'we' you refer to?

    I agreed with the outcome in Citizens United and I'm opposed to legal or regulatory attempts (as opposed to simple political statements) to block Chick-Fil-A et al. Don't assume that everyone is so monolithic in their politics.

    Posted by: Nat | Jul 27, 2012 10:25:41 AM


  6. @ Dan

    Oh but sweets, you are a troll. Only a troll puts being for gay in the same catagory as being anti gay. Do you also believe being for interracial marriage is the equivelant to being a KKK member? Why not?

    Posted by: Amber | Jul 27, 2012 10:37:57 AM


  7. Dan:

    The fundemental flaw in your argument is that you believe a homophobe is as just as those who aren't homophobic. Yes, most of society will applaud a gay ally, while deeply condemning a homophobe, don't like it? I hear Iran...and Uganda are beautiful this tiem of year.

    Posted by: USC Trojans Fan | Jul 27, 2012 10:39:55 AM


  8. But Dan, of course you're a troll.

    ONLY a troll can hijack a perfectly positive post for gay rights and turn it into an attempt ( a weak one) to belittle the gay community. Why not just own your troll status? Do you feel dirty being a hetero homophobe playing a gay man on a gay site to make it seem like you're one of us?

    Posted by: Frank | Jul 27, 2012 10:41:23 AM


  9. Dan.

    If you weren't a troll, why would you try to shift a fantastic story in to one where you try to school gays in being complacent toward a homophobic corporation? Do you really think the day will come when gays embrace a known homophobic entity while putting that same establishment in the same status as a company that donates $2.5 milliom toward our cause? How many gay people do you know in your life? How many self respecting gay people do you know in your life?

    Posted by: 2Dads | Jul 27, 2012 10:44:53 AM


  10. Stop engaging bigots like Dan.

    They camp out on these gay sites to make each of us more complacent toward homophobia. Their attempt is to throw out strawman arguments with "but what ifs..." so that you see the side of the homophobes, and kick rocks and not fight back and fight hard toward homophobia. Do not be fooled by the crafty homophobe commentator on here. They just want you to be as careless toward gay rights as they are.

    Posted by: Scot Johansen | Jul 27, 2012 10:47:53 AM


  11. Homosexuality should never have been taken off the metal conditions list.
    I hope he pays for this nasty little man

    Posted by: max | Jul 27, 2012 11:44:47 AM


  12. Another reason to love Amazon!

    Posted by: Great! | Jul 27, 2012 11:57:54 AM


  13. I want Chik-Fil-A diners to boycott Amazon. TRY IT.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Jul 27, 2012 12:10:33 PM


  14. @DAN:
    In case you don't know, Amazon is an online shopping company. They don't have stores in cities. As a matter of fact, the stuff they sell is not from Amazon. They are from a lot of different vendors.

    Posted by: simon | Jul 27, 2012 2:26:54 PM


  15. @MARK: once again you jump to conclusions! The article you posted was from a year ago! So, are you saying he only donated because they needed some good press from a story that is now a year old? Either they are really slow in responding to PR problems, or you are really stretching to link these two issues (badly). Really!

    Posted by: EYEROLL | Jul 27, 2012 3:05:35 PM


  16. Thanks! That's a lot of strap ons and lube. Should have given it to gun violence.

    Posted by: Matt | Jul 27, 2012 3:41:14 PM


  17. What an awesome gift to the forces fighting for equality!

    I'm about do some Amazon shopping.

    Posted by: truthteller | Jul 27, 2012 4:30:10 PM


  18. Cool! For every "Rat-Fil-A", there's an Amazon. Thanks for your support, Jeff & Mackenzie. Now I'll support you with some shopping on Amazon!!

    Posted by: Rob | Jul 27, 2012 5:15:37 PM


  19. Time to renew my Prime membership :)

    Posted by: Daws | Jul 27, 2012 5:37:15 PM


  20. First off- A giant thank you to Mr.&Mrs. Bezos!!!!!!!! You guys are truly awesome- and personify the meaning of giving back and making a difference. Now I feel really good about that Kindle Fire I bought my bf for christmas lol- and all the e-books each month as well.


    @Dan- You mistakenly assume all gays are progressives, and that all progressives want to drastically reduce the amount of money spent in elections- which isn't what most progressives are after. Most of us simply want the McCain-Feingold rule enforced- that donors- big donors- are listed

    Posted by: scott | Jul 27, 2012 8:01:42 PM


  21. Looks like we will be doing more business with Amazon, do the make chicken sandwiches?

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 28, 2012 1:14:26 AM


  22. Consistency is the hobgoblin of foolish minds. Usually Republican minds too. Highly overrated. Try thinking Dan, instead of spouting the principles you make up as you go.

    Posted by: macadamia nut | Jul 28, 2012 1:58:09 PM


  23. They should have given the money to that theater Comedian Fred Willard was caught playing with himself in. We need to keep these venues alive. We have the right to entertainment too!

    Posted by: Jake | Jul 28, 2012 3:15:20 PM


  24. Can someone clarify this though? As I understood the Chick-Fil-A episode, I thought they were saying that the COMPANY itself used it's profits to support anti-gay groups and movements. Not the COO directly - the company itself. I consider this quite a big distinction (if this is the case) from private citizens donating their own money. (which is what the Bezos have done).

    Posted by: Juniper | Aug 7, 2012 7:33:25 AM


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