On Friday, an announcement was made by the founder and CEO of Amazon.com that he and his wife would be donating $2.5 million to the defense of Washington’s same-sex marriage law. The CEO, Jeff Bezos, and his wife, MacKenzie, made the donation to the campaign. Washington United for Marriage has now raised over $5 million for its referendum campaign with this new gift.
“It’s a game changer for us,” Zach Silk, the campaign’s manager, said. “It puts us in unique position to win.”
Silk understands that Washington United for Marriage is still the underdog in the fight because of the previous 32 elections across the country where same-sex supporters were defeated. Because of the donation from the Bezos, the election in Washington could be game changer for the law.
“They understand what’s at stake for Washington families and what’s at stake for the country,” Silk said. “We’re at a tipping point, and they really understand this is an historic moment, and they want to be on the right side of history and want to make history.”
In June, the CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, and founder Bill Gates donated $100,000 each in support of Washington’s law. In May, Referendum 74 was certified to the ballot in November. The reason that it was certified is that 240,000 people signed the referendum as members of the group Preserve Marriage Washington. The goal of the referendum is to overturn the same-sex marriage law signed by Governor Chris Gregoire in February.
According to the website of Preserve Marriage Washington, the group aims to keep marriage as a union between a woman and a man “because marriage is a unique institution that is profoundly in the common good.”
The same-sex law in Washington was supposed to activate on June 7 but since has been placed on hold. When voting on the referendum, a vote of ‘no’ overturns the law and a vote of ‘yes’ upholds the law.
The state of Maryland made same-sex marriage legal earlier this year but will have a public vote in the fall. Other states that have legalized same-sex marriage include Iowa, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. A referendum overturned a law passed by the Legislature in Maine, which will force voters to approve or deny same-sex marriage.
Silk is expecting the other side of the fight to spend anywhere from $4 to $7 million on the campaign against same-sex marriage.
“We take them at their word and we need to dig deep,” Silk said. Silk also said that the donations to his campaign have been less than $200 each but the campaign has received over 8,000 donations.
“This is a grassroots movement,” he said. “This is an issue of fundamental fairness.”