Washington United for Marriage, the broad coalition working to approve Referendum 74, announced Monday that Bill and Melinda Gates have made a $500,000 donation to the effort to defend the state’s bipartisan marriage law.
“Bill and Melinda Gates made a second contribution to the Referendum 74 campaign because they support marriage equality and believe the law is good for Washington state,” said a family spokesperson. The source added, “They support marriage equality and believe the law is good for Washington state.”
“This is just such an incredible gift and comes at a time when we’re seeing significant national money flow to our opponents,” said WUM campaign chair Lacey All. “This is not the first time the Gates have made an investment in our campaign, and it’s a testament to the confidence they have in our ability to make history on November 6.”
Gates had previously made a $100,000 contribution to WUM on June 29.
Also on Monday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $250,000 challenge grant to marriage equality supporters.
“I was proud to support the successful push for marriage equality in New York State, and I’m proud to stand with supporters around the country. I do not believe that government has any business telling one class of couples that they cannot marry,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The 14th Amendment guarantees us all equal protection under the law, given the long march of freedom that defines the history of our nation, the question is not if marriage equality happens, but when. The people of Washington have a chance to answer that question on November 6.”
Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts a robust 81 percent voter turnout in Washington State this year. Reed, making his final turnout prediction before leaving office in January, said he expects a somewhat better-than-average participation due to the quality of the races and the ballot measures. Also, this is the first presidential/gubernatorial election conducted entirely by mail.
“It is true that there have been an avalanche of TV and radio commercials for months, blanket news coverage for the past year, and heavy spending by the campaigns,” he said. “But the thing that generates turnout is whether you have compelling races and ballot measures that people care about. We have that this year, big time.
“The presidential race has been front and center, and our open governor’s race has been highly competitive from the very opening bell. Unusually, we have four wide-open statewide offices (governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and auditor) and three open congressional seats (1st, 6th and new 10th). The two parties are fighting a ferocious battle for control of the Legislature. Local communities have some terrific races and measures, and we are electing our judges.
“And our ballot measures seem custom-made for driving up turnout this year. We are voting on same-sex marriage, decriminalizing marijuana, authorizing charter schools, and deciding whether to require two-thirds super majorities to pass taxes in Olympia.”