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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 26, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 43
Bill and Melinda Gates donate $500,000 to R-74
Section One
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Bill and Melinda Gates donate $500,000 to R-74

Michael Bloomberg pledges $250,000 in matching funds to Approve R-74 vote

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Washington United for Marriage and the Approve Referendum 74 campaign found new reasons to celebrate this past week, when they received a large new donation from Microsoft mogul Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, and a promise of matching funds from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bill and Melinda Gates each contributed $250,000, according to state Public Disclosure Commission reports. Bloomberg offered up to $250,000 to match donations generated by the Approve R-74 campaign.

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE
Washington United for Marriage campaign manager Zach Silk said the new donations represented a vote of confidence in the campaign for marriage equality.

'These amazing gifts, from two visionary leaders, demonstrate their confidence in our campaign, which families across Washington state are counting on us to win,' Silk told SGN.

'They join tens of thousands of individual donors and their call to action, coming as it does in these final days, is an inspiration to every supporter of the freedom to marry.'

The Approve R-74 campaign received the $500,000 Gates contribution on October 15. It brought the total raised for marriage equality to just under $11 million. Bloomberg's money has not yet been counted toward the total, because it is contingent on Approve R-74 fundraising.

Washington United for Marriage has spent about $9.5 million, much of it on an effective series of TV ads featuring a cross section of people advocating for 'the freedom to marry the person you love.' Silk told SGN that the campaign 'will pour 100% of the [newest] gifts into direct voter contact. It will help us complete our advertising and run a large-scale get-out-the-vote campaign.'

GATES A REPEAT DONOR
Gates donated $100,000 to Washington United for Marriage in June. His business partner Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft CEO, also invested $100,000 at that time.

'We were excited the Gates family decided to invest again,' Silk said.

'Bill and Melinda Gates made a second contribution to the [Approve] Referendum 74 campaign because they support marriage equality and believe the law is good for Washington state,' said a family spokesperson announcing the new donation on October 23.

Contacted by SGN, a spokesperson for the Gates family said the donation was a personal contribution from the couple and not connected with the Gates Foundation. The spokesperson added that Bill and Melinda Gates are 'out of the country' and would have no further comment beyond what had been released already.

SPREADING THE WEALTH
Bloomberg, a successful equity broker as well as mayor of New York, pledged matching funds of $250,000 to Washington United for Marriage, $125,000 to Mainers United for Marriage, and $125,000 to Minnesotans United for All Families.

Bloomberg said he hoped his pledges would help pro-equality groups raise additional money by generating new contributions in the homestretch of their campaigns. If the challenge is successful, it will raise $1 million for the cause of marriage equality in the three states.

On October 13, Bloomberg announced that he had made an outright donation of $250,000 to Marylanders for Marriage Equality. 'Maryland will always hold a special place in my heart,' Bloomberg said at the time, because he attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Bloomberg is reportedly the 10th richest person in the U.S., with assets totaling some $25 billion.

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