OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot measure to ratify same-sex marriage in Washington state received $2.5 million from the founder of Amazon.com, the campaign announced today.
Washington United for Marriage, which is pushing Referendum 74 on the Nov. 6 ballot, announced the contribution from Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos this morning. A spokesman said it was the largest single donation to a campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in the country.
It also more than doubles the campaign's total contributions, to about $4.8 million and shows continuing support from the state's high-tech executives. The campaign has also received contributions of $100,000 each from Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.
Preserve Marriage Washington, the group that gathered signatures to put the measure on the ballot and is urging a no vote to block same sex-marriage, has reported about $250,000 in contributions.
The Washington Legislature passed a bill legalizing marriage between same-sex couples early this year and it was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, who had announced her support for the change before the session started. But opponents quickly filed a referendum and gathered the needed signatures, placing the law on hold.
Six states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont — as well as Washington, D.C., have passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage, but no state has approved it through a ballot measure. Washington, Maryland and Maine have same-sex marriage proposals on statewide ballots this fall.
Top donors to Washington United for Marriage, supporting Ref. 74
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, $2.5 million
Steve Ballmer, $100,000
William Gates, $100,000
Freedom to Marry Action Inc., New York, $100,000
SEIU Wash. State Council, $100,000
Joe Curiel and Tony Raugust, $50,000
Joel Spiegel and Karen Van Dusen, $50,000
Lawrence Stone, $50,000
Jennifer Cast, $25,000
Laurene Powell Jobs, $25,000
Bradford L. Smith, $25,000
Benjamin Waldman, $25,000
Top donors to Preserve Marriage Washington, opposing Ref. 74
Thomas Matthews, $50,000
Thomas and Mary Matthews, $20,000
National Organization for Marriage, Washington, D.C. $10,000
Knights of Columbus Council 676, $5,000
George Reese, $5,000
Larry Sundquist, $5,000
Curtiss Wikstrom, $2,500
Brett Baker, $1,500
Harbor Calvary Chapel, $1,375