Executives from dozens of businesses in the state of Washington, including Amazon.com, Costco, Microsoft, Nordstrom and REI, have signed on to a full-page ad in the Sunday Seattle Times, endorsing Referendum 74’s same-sex marriage law. (See the ad here. )
The pro-gay marriage group, Washington United for Marriage, purchased the advertisement with part of the $8.9 million it has raised in response to anti-gay marriage group Preserve Marriage Washington’s television ads (click here to view) that began running last week. Opponents have raised $1.78 million.
Washington United for Marriage also has ads running. View one here.
The referendum ratifies a bill passed this year by Washington’s House and Senate and signed by Governor Christine Gregoire February 13. The law was to go into effect on June 7, but gay-marriage opponents collected signatures to force the bill into referendum.
The description of the measure on the ballot reads, “This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.”
This Sunday’s ad says, “As leaders who do business in Washington State, our companies and organizations strive to attract the best and the brightest talent in order to compete in a global marketplace and to reﬂect our communities, customers and employees’ diversity. We are endorsing Referendum 74 to uphold the state’s civil marriage equality law that allows all loving, committed couples to be married, while also protecting religious freedom.
“Our state’s largest chamber of commerce, comprised of 2,200 businesses representing a regional workforce of approximately 700,000 people, has endorsed Approve Referendum 74. So have Alcoa, Amazon, Concur, EMC,
Expedia, Google, Group Health, Microsoft, Nike, Nordstrom, REI, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Vulcan and more than 600 small businesses, labor organizations, congregations, and community-based organizations across the state.
“Economists have projected that allowing same-sex couples to marry will add $88 million to our state’s economy before 2015.
“We don’t want our employees, our customers or our friends and neighbors who are gay or lesbian to have to produce a legal document just to comfort a loved one in the hospital or to lose a partner of decades and be told that in the eyes of the government, they are considered a stranger.
“We support allowing all loving, committed couples the freedom to marry because it means every employee is treated fairly, it helps our competitive business advantage and is good for our state’s economy.
“Uphold our state’s marriage equality law by voting Approve on Referendum 74 on your election ballot.”
Ballots will be mailed to all voters this Wednesday, as Washington is one of two states (Oregon is the other) that uses an all-mail election system. Forty-six of Colorado’s 64 counties vote by mail as well.
In June, Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife donated $2.5 million to the pro gay marriage group. Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates donated $100,000.
Recent polls of Washington voters, as well as in Maryland and Maine, show a lead for the supporters of same-sex marriage. But comparable leads in other states — notably in California in 2008 — evaporated by Election Day and experts expect the final result to be extremely close.