Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and wife give $2.5 million to defend marriage equality

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and wife give $2.5 million to defend marriage equality

Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon.com in Seattle nearly two decades ago, will make a $2.5 million dollar donation to Washington United for Marriage, which is fighting to pass Referendum 74, a ballot initiative that would legalize a state proposal to allow same-sex marriage.

The New York Times reports that the donation came about after a former Amazon employee who is a lesbian mom of four directly emailed Bezos.

In the e-mail, Ms. Cast described in detail the pain she endured as a young adult and the difficulties she faced publicly acknowledging her sexuality. At the end, she pointedly asked him to donate between $100,000 and $200,000 to the referendum cause. “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.”

Washington United for Marriage says it has raised more than $5 million for Referendum 74 on the November ballot. Last month Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and co-founder Bill Gates each donated $100,000 to the campaign supporting the law.

Referendum 74 seeks to overturn the law signed in February by Gov. Chris Gregoire. The law was supposed to take effect June 7 but has been put on hold.

A yes vote upholds the law and a no vote overturns it.