Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of online retailer Amazon.com, has pledged a $2.5 million donation to help pass a gay marriage referendum in Washington. Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, instantly became two of the largest donors in the fight for marriage equality in the country.
The money donated by the billionaire couple doubles the financial backing of currently available to the proponents of Washington's Referendum 74, which will be voted on in November. The money will help fund staff, ad campaigns and other initiatives that are designed to paint same-sex marriage and gay rights in a positive light to state voters.
Even though same-sex marriage been declared legal by courts and state legislatures across the country, voter-backed referendums have never upheld marriage equality. One possible reason for this is the fact that opponents of same-sex marriage generally outspend proponents in large ad campaigns. The hope is that with Bezos' donation, the playing field will be a little more even in Washington.
The announcement of the Amazon CEO's donation in support of same-sex marriage comes on the heels of massive social media wars concerning Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy's opposition of the union. The controversy has made Chick-fil-A headline news over the last several days, prompting both extreme outrage at the company from those who support gay marriage, and extreme support from individuals who believe marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman.
The pockets of tech industry pioneers are deep, but it's not too often that the money is used to take sides in culture wars. Considering the passionate arguments on either side of the same-sex marriage debate, Bezos could very well be putting the reputation of his company at stake. Just as Dan Cathy's opinions on the issue prompted dozens of boycotts of Chick-Fil-A products, there will likely be some similar repercussions for Amazon once conservative action groups get wind of the Bezos' donation.