Some corporate heavyweights have squared off in the battle over same-sex marriage, and they’re throwing haymakers at each other in the form of big bags of money.In the pro-marriage equality corner we have Steve Bezos, billionaire founder of Amazon, and his wife, MacKenzie, who last week announced they’re contributing $250 million to help pass Washington state’s Referendum 74. (The state legislature legalized same-sex marriage in February, but right-wing Christian zealots gathered signatures to put the law up for a popular vote.)
The $250 million from Steve and MacKenzie Bezos is believed to be the largest contribution ever made by private individuals to support the cause of marriage equality, and overnight it doubled the size of the war chest of Washington United for Marriage, the principal group backing Referendum 74.
Joining the Bezos on the pro-marriage equality team are many top Washington executives and business leaders, including Microsoft billionaires Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates, who so far have chipped in $100,000 each – kind of a paltry sum compared to $250 million, but every little bit helps.
Currently the most prominent corporate slugger on the anti-marriage equality side is Dan Cathy, founder and CEO of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain. Cathy donated more than $2 million to anti-gay campaigns and groups in 2010 and makes no secret of his anti-gay agenda, telling reporters that he and his company believe in “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
If Mr. Cathy knows his Bible – and we’re confident he does – he must be aware that “the biblical definition of the family unit” was pretty elastic, especially back in Old Testament times. For example, Noah committed incest with his daughters while drunk; Lot offered to let the men of Sodom gang-rape his daughters; Abraham, revered as the founder of the Judeo-Christian religion, encouraged his wife Sarai to carry on with Pharaoh and fathered a son by his concubine, Hagar; and many other prominent Biblical characters, including Jacob, David and Solomon, had multiple wives. Ah, those were the good old family-values days.
But we digress.
Backers of the Washington referendum expect to outraise opponents 2-to-1, but they’re going to need every dime, because the track record for pro-marriage equality ballot measures isn’t good: 32 have been shot down by voters, and not one has passed. Although polls repeatedly show most Americans favoring marriage equality, when it comes time to fill out their ballots they seem to change their minds.
As a spokesman for Washington United for Marriage said, “We hope [the Bezos donation] spurs others to invest because we’re a long way from November and we face opponents with deep pockets who are committed to spending millions to defeat us.” We join in hoping more contributors, big and small, will help WUM wage its uphill battle. (If you want to donate, go to washingtonunitedformarriage.org.)
Meanwhile here’s the GLASS SLIPER for Steve and MacKenzie Bezos, Gates, Ballmer and everybody else who’s chipped in – and a BOOT of Biblical proportions for Dan Cathy and others who use their financial muscle to beat up on people who don’t share their personal notions of morality.