Amazon’s Bezos donates $2.5 million to support same-sex marriage

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos addresses a press conference to introduce new Amazon and Kindle products in New York, September 28, 2011.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is donating $2.5 million toward the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of Washington, where Amazon is based.

The donation was made to "Washington United For Marriage", a Political Action Committee trying to get voters to approve same-sex marriage in the fall.

John Cook edits the tech news site Geekwire in Seattle. He says this is an unusual move for the guy who started and still runs Amazon.

John Cook: There have been some critical looks at Bezos and Amazon in terms of them not giving back to the community, and they are pretty much a no show. He's not that big of a community advocate in Seattle or in Washington State for that matter.

Bezos says his decision came about after an email from a former employee, urging him to join the cause. That employee, Jen Cast, is also co-chair of the finance committee for the group receiving the donation.

Bezos has plenty of company in the tech community, supporting same-sex marriage.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer have each donated to the effort in Washington state.

Apple donated to the campaign to defeat California's Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage there.

Google also opposed Proposition 8 and recently launched a global campaign for gay rights.

Gary Gates is a demographer and a scholar at the UCLA School of Law. He says regardless of the personal convictions of the decision makers at the big tech companies, that kind of support is a shrewd tactical move.

Gary Gates: The companies who make these stances genuinely believe that it gives them a leg up in how they can sell and brand themselves to the people that they most want to work for them, and I think that the risk of not taking a stance is that you can't make that pitch as easily and that you perhaps can't recruit and retain your talent as easily as those who make these stances

Moe: You’ve done a lot of research on demographics of the gay and lesbian population around the country. Does the density of that population correlate with big tech areas like Seattle, Silicon Valley.

Gates: Generally yes. In places that generally have higher concentrations of either LGBT people, or one of the ways we look at it is census data on same-sex couples. I don't necessarily think there's a causal relationship there other than I think it signals environments where that kind of diversity is welcomed and accepted and those are environments that these kind of creative and entrepreneurial companies, which many of these tech companies are, that's the kind of environment that they need to do their business.

Gary Gates at UCLA School of Law.

**

And now a Marketplace Tech Report vocabulary word.

Twiplomacy.

Twitter combined with diplomacy.

A new report by PR firm Burston Masteller says two thirds of the 193 countries of the United Nations are now on Twitter.

But they haven't quite figured out what to do with it yet, how to handle their twiplomatic affairs.

Just 30 heads of state have personally tweeted and very few among those do so on a regular basis.

President Obama was the first world leader to join Twitter but he only follows two of the world leaders who follow him: Dmitry Medvedev, prime minister of Russia and the prime minister of Norway. Norway?

But Obama's Twiplomacy is stronger than the presidents of Russia, Rwanda, The Netherlands, and Singapore. They don't follow anyone. The heads of state in China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Italy haven't even signed up.

I hope the UN offers a session on Twiplomacy lead by Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves. He knows how to have fun.

His first tweet said, "Help! I'm being followed! ; )"

 

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...