Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon.com, has agreed to donate $2.5 million (£1.59m, €2.04m) to help pass a same-sex marriage referendum in Washington.
This means Bezos, and his wife MacKenzie, are now among the largest financial backers of the marriage equality fight in the United States, the New York Times reports.
With the gift, Washington United for Marriage (WUM) now has over $5 million to fight for Referendum 74, which will be voted on this November.
‘To get this from a straight, married couple sends a powerful message that marriage is seen as a fundamental question of fairness,’ Zach Silk, the campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage, said.
Jennifer Cast, who works as WUM’s volunteer finance co-chair and a lesbian mother of four children said she was thrilled by the ‘staggeringly generous donation’.
She said: ‘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.’
Cast explained how she had contacted Bezos, as she was one of Amazon’s earliest employees.
In her email sent last Sunday (22 July), she wrote: ‘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.
‘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 told the NYT she had asked for $100,000 or $200,000, and had no idea what would come next.
Two days later, she was sitting in her car when she received the reply.
‘Jen,’ the email said, ‘this is right for so many reasons. We’re in for $2.5 million. Jeff and MacKenzie.’