Gay marriage campaign in Washington finds support
A law allowing gay marriage in Washington state, passed in Feb 2012, is suspended pending a referendum which will appear on the US Presidential ballot in November.
Referendum 74 (R74), to uphold the decision to pass the law or to throw out the law before it comes into force will be decided by the voters in Washington State as they vote in the Presidential elections on 6 November.
Now some of America’s richest are queuing to fund the fight to keep the law.
Michael Bloomberg, City Mayor of New York, has pledged quarter of a million dollars to match any donations made to the Washington United for Marriage (WUM) campaign by the end of this week. Time is short for the campaign and Bloomberg has demonstrated his grasp of campaign tactics by setting the deadline.
Announcing the funds on Monday, Mayor Bloomberg said that government should not be telling any group of people that they could not marry.
The mayor has a personal fortune of more than twenty five billion dollars. He is the founder of Bloomberg, a financial data-services firm, in which he still has an 88% stake.
Meanwhile Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos have pledged two and a half million dollars for the WUM campaign. Jeff is the founder and CEO of Amazon, an online retailer.
The Bezos' donation came as a response to an email from a former Amazon employee, Jennifer Cast, who is now the fundraising chair of WUM.
"We need help from straight people," she wrote to Bezos, according to The Seattle Times. "To be very frank, we need help from wealthy straight people who care about us and who want to help us win."
News of the Bezos’ contribution broke on Friday morning. The campaign had already had one hundred thousand dollars from Microsoft, a software developer, pledged by Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft and company CEO Steve Ballmer.
Tuesday brought the news that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had donated half a million dollars to the campaign. Apparently the donation was made on October 15th but only went public on Tuesday.
The Bezos' pledge is one of the largest donations by an individual to any ballot measure in Washington’s history.
Amazon's support of gay rights is well known. The company joined other local businesses, including Microsoft and Boeing, in support of the gay-marriage law earlier this year.
Washington United for Marriage has raised more than eleven million in cash to back its campaign. Preserve Marriage Washington, which opposes the law, has raised around two million.
If R74 follows the pattern of American political campaigns, such a difference in the size of the war chest should see Washington solemnizing gay marriages in early 2013.