With the gift, the couple have doubled the money available to the proponents of Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage in the state by affirming a law that passed the Legislature this year.Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos will quite rightly get a lot of credit for donating such a substantial sum to marriage equality. Without taking anything away from them, I want to congratulate Jennifer Cast for being so brave and making herself vulnerable, on behalf of her community. It's not easy to put yourself out there in the way she did, and we all get a lot of cultural discouragements against the simple and intimidating act of asking.
...Mr. Bezos was approached via e-mail on Sunday by Jennifer Cast, one of Amazon's earliest employees and a lesbian mother of four children who is now a fund-raising chairwoman of the pro-referendum effort.
In her e-mail, sent Sunday evening, Ms. Cast, 50, implored Mr. Bezos to understand the importance of the issue to her and her longtime partner.
"I want to have the right to marry the love of my life and to let my children and grandchildren know their family is honored like a 'real' family," Ms. Cast wrote. "We need help from straight people. To be very frank, we need help from wealthy straight people who care about us and who want to help us win."
In an interview on Thursday night, Ms. Cast said she had no idea how Mr. Bezos would respond. Though she had worked closely with him when Amazon had only a few dozen employees, she left the company in 2001 and said she had never talked about same-sex marriage with him.
"We were chatting about the biz. We weren't chatting about our lives," she said, recalling her time at the company. "I never, ever in my life talked to him about gay marriage."
In the e-mail, Ms. Cast described in detail the pain she endured as a young adult and the difficulties she faced publicly acknowledging her sexuality. At the end, she pointedly asked him to donate between $100,000 and $200,000 to the referendum cause.
"Jeff, I suspect you support marriage equality," she wrote. "I beg you not to sit on the sidelines and hope the vote goes our way. Help us make it so."
She hit "send" and waited.
Two days later, on Tuesday, she received a reply while in a car with her family. Recalling that moment, she said she had to read it out loud twice to make sure she had read it right.
"Jen," the e-mail said, "this is right for so many reasons. We're in for $2.5 million. Jeff & MacKenzie."
Asking can be a radical act. And so can answering. What a great story.