In the latest round of the culture war tentatively being titled Chick-fil-A vs. Everyone Except Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, Jeff Bezos has announced he’ll donate $2.5 million to passing a bill on the ballot this November in Washington state that would legalize same-sex marriages.
Called Referendum 74, the bill already has major support from Washington-based Microsoft titans Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, who wrote a high-profile letter supporting marriage equality and donated $100,00 each to the cause. Don’t ge me wrong, Bezos is a very, very rich man. In addition to founding Amazon he was also the first-ever investor in Google, giving Larry Page and Sergey Brin $100,000 to start the company out of their garage. He’s worth $19 billion bucks. But he’s nowhere near as rich as Bill Gates. Relatively speaking the $2.5 million commitment is impressive, although it’s still basically pocket change for Bezos.
Bezos’s donation to supporting Referendum 74 wasn’t tied overtly to the ongoing Chick-fil-A saga. But the drama has overtaken the dialogue surrounding marriage equality. After Jim Henson Company’s falling out with the chicken joint and Boston’s mayor threatening to bar them from the city, a Chicago alderman promised to veto their building permit, a promise Chi-town mayor Rahm Emanuel endorsed, and yesterday San Francisco mayor Edwin Lee tweeted the chain “best not come any closer” to his town.
Gawker notes that these are basically empty threats, as a city can’t legally bar a business because it doesn’t share their political views. Bezos, on the other hand, might actually help get gay marriage passed. According to Mashable a recent poll “51% of Washington voters believed same-sex marriage should be legal compared to 42% who thought it should be illegal.” A reasonably tight race, but $2.5 million in spending should help tip the scales.