Straight talk on Bezos $2.5 million same-sex marriage donation

Straight talk on Bezos $2.5 million same-sex marriage donation

Summary: David Gewirtz rarely discusses values or religious issues (rather than political issues) here on ZDNet Government. This time, though, he responds to a reader with fire and brimstone.

TOPICS: Privacy

I rarely respond publicly to letters I get from readers. I also rarely discuss values or religious issues (rather than political issues) here on ZDNet Government. This time, though, I'm going to do both.

I got a letter yesterday from a reader, Lisa, that simply requires a response. Here's her letter (typos and all):

My daughter has a kindle fire. I just found out that the ceo of amazon is giving 2.5 million to same sex marriage. I don't want to be a part of this. Do I throw out the kindle or can I order my daughter books and apps from other places other than amazon???? Can you help me with this question???

Wow. Just wow.

Okay, let's start with a quick backgrounder. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife announced on Friday that they are donating $2.5 million to a campaign to defend Washington State's same sex marriage law.

CBS News: Amazon CEO gives $2.5M to defend same-sex marriage

Bezos is not the only Washington State billionaire to donate in defense of same-sex marriage. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer each donated $100,000.

This gives advocacy group Washington United for Marriage almost $5 million for their campaign to let same-sex couples get married and enjoy the legal, medical, and social benefits of marriage.

By contrast, Preserve Marriage Washington is expected to spend between $4 million and $7 million to deny same-sex couples the right to get married.

My thoughts on the issue

Okay, now for my thoughts on the issue. You should know that I'm married to a wonderful woman. Marriage is, by far, the best thing that ever happened to me. Like most married couples, we not only share our bed, we share our lives. We deal with financial issues, home maintenance issues, and health challenges as a couple. We spend our days and our nights together, enjoying each others' company, love, and support.

We also enjoy a wide variety of legal and societal advantages that are conferred upon married people, from the ability to visit each other if we're ever in the hospital to homesteading rights to health benefits to inheritance benefits.

Far more than just those benefits, being married is a joy.

The idea that some organizations would spend millions of dollars to deny loving couples that joy (along with the tangible societal benefits) is just plain mean spirited.

What the hell is wrong with you people?

We have so much strife in the world as it is, life is so difficult as it is. It's hard enough to find good friends and even harder to find a life partner. If two consenting adults want to declare their love for each other, make each other their person, and spend their lives together nurturing each other, how can that possibly be your business?

Many so-called leaders walk a fine line, saying that it's okay for same-sex couples to enjoy the benefits of civil unions, but they're just not allowed to call themselves "married".

One of my absolute greatests points of pride is when I get to say I'm my wife's husband.

What possible ludicrous reason could you have to deny same-sex couples that little happiness? What insane, repressive twist of the mind lets you think it's okay to let same-sex couples use the 11-character phrase "civil union" but spend millions to deny the 8-character word "marriage"?

We have so many other important issues in this world. People are starving. We're still at war and our soldiers are dying. We're fighting dangerous diseases. We're on the verge of ecological collapse. People are losing their homes and their jobs.

These are real issues. Worrying over whether or not your daughter reads Harry Potter (or the Bible for that matter) on a Kindle Fire because Bezos made a donation to a cause he cares about (and many of his employees strongly care about) is not a real-world issue.

So, Lisa, here's my recommendation. Just for you.

The Kindle Fire is a great little machine. Amazon's books and Kindle books are wonderful. They work on many different platforms, and on many different machines.

You could throw away your Kindle Fire. You could go ahead and waste that $200. You could also destroy all your Kindle books and if you've ever bought a paper book from Amazon, you could go ahead and burn it. You could then tell your friends how virtuous you were when you burned those books.

Better yet, you could find a gay person (they're lurking everywhere, you know!) and give your Kindle Fire to him or her. That'd learn 'em something!

Now, I should warn you. You probably won't be able to buy digital books from anyone else. Apple, for example, has long supported the rights of its gay employees, so you can't go buy books from the iBooks store.

Barnes & Noble has a solid reputation for supporting its gay and lesbian employees. Google has actively lobbied on behalf of gay and lesbian couples.

You probably should avoid reading the Bible as well. Although it's subject to debate, there's even some support for the idea that the Bible itself is neutral when it comes to homosexuality.

So, Lisa, how can you protect your daughter from the forces of evil that want to allow people to love and live together? How can you protect her from reading books that might open her mind to the modern world? How can you defend her from people who want to freely use an eight-letter word to describe their relationship?

Well, I can't suggest you read your Bible (because it could corrupt your daughter's young mind). She's a girl, so you could probably feel somewhat safe sending her to talk to your local Catholic priest for advice.

You probably should stay away from anti-gay Baptist preachers because they clearly can't control themselves.

You probably should also stay away from Republicans like Mark Foley, Larry Craig, because they clearly can't keep it in their pants. For the record, it's much harder to find a Democratic gay sex scandal. Democrats seem to prefer cheating on their wives with female hookers rather than doing it in airports with young men. Go figure.

And I'd recommend you avoid the Evangelicals as well, because if they're populated by people like Ted Haggard, they're clearly not safe to be around, either.

Weirdly enough, many Americans think almost one-in-four Americans are gay, when the number is probably closer to 2%.

Even so, that would mean that something like 6.6 million Americans are gay. That's approximately the population of Chicago and Los Angeles, combined.

But, I digress. Lisa, you asked me, "Can you help me with this question???".

Yes, Lisa. Yes, I can. The answer is simple. Keep your Kindle. Let your daughter read books. And stop hating people because they're different from you.

America was founded on the idea of freedom. What could be more supportive of freedom than letting people be free to use the word "marriage" to describe two people in love, who've committed to spending their lives together?

What could possibly be more American than that?

Topic: Privacy


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • What ever happened to going to a tech site for technical help?

    I don't disagree with the opinions stated here. But I do disagree with berating someone who asked for help. It seems like giving the answer that many of the big tech companies support gay marriage and gay lifestyle might have been enough!

    On a side note, isn't an elitist-sounding liberal rant one big reason that some people refuse to open their minds to social progress?

    Perhaps I reject the tone of this article because I don't believe you win hearts and minds by berating people that don't see your point of view. Certainly not in this context.
    Neal Pitts
    • She didn't even know what she was talking about...

      I didn't really read the article in a condescending tone, but the woman was simply not using common sense. Disregarding any stances in gay rights issues, she would have to live on a rock in the middle of the ocean to avoid being "a part of" companies which support gay rights causes.

      IBM, Apple and Microsoft - that basically eliminates computers and many electronics.
      American Airlines, Delta and Boeing - that basically eliminates air travel and much of the country's military equipment.
      Nike, Target, J.C. Penny, etc - that basically eliminates many common clothing options
      General Mills, Pepsi, Coors, Kraft, Starbucks, etc. - that's dozens upon dozens of everyday food brands

      I know "Lisa" probably read one story online and freaked out, but I refuse to believe that she doesn't know about these other companies. I also refuse to believe that she would boycott all of them, as well. This example, with the Bezo's, is even more ridiculous considering this was a donation by a private citizen, not the company itself.
    • She asked for non-technical help...

      If she had asked something technical, you would be right, Neal. But she asked for help about taking a moral position and therefor the answer David gave her is right on target.
      • Technically Technical

        " can I order my daughter books and apps from other places other than amazon???? Can help me with this question???" Sounds technical to me. Shame on David Gewirtz.
        Iacobus Isaias
  • petty column

    Go write somewhere else. No one cares about your poorly written opinion. Really you should be ashamed of yourself for writing this.
    • Actually Brilliant column

      This column is a reminder that the whole point of America is equality and civil rights.
      Tyler Rausous
      • This obsession will also be its doom in the end

        You heard it here first.
        • What obsession?

          I can't recall David ever writing about this subject before...

          And since you missed it - one of his READERS asked the question that started this... it's not like he decided to write about it just for yocks.
          The Werewolf!
          • Thread reading (and responding) 101

            Obsession with is equality and civil rights. Follow the (thread) dots.
          • If an obsession with civil rights will doom us . . .

            . . . what would you suggest? Stalinist USSR wasn't obsessed with civil rights, nor Pol Pot's Cambodia.
          • Why one extreme vs another?

            I'm not big on obsessions of any stripe, or overloads in general.
    • Let me translate...

      "I don't like your opinions so I'm going to insult you rather than actually challenging your view."

      The Werewolf!
    • Speak for yourself.

      I thought it was well written. It's a good answer to a stupid question.
  • Cheers

    That is a excellent way to frame the issue. While I may not always agree with you, here I am 100% in your corner.
  • In my opinion...

    The fact I'm a LGBT supporter and advocate of equal rights aside, and that David is a colleague, he is my hero for writing this piece. Gutsy, ballsy, truthful and honest. Hats off to you, sir.
    • Harassing and mocking Lisa is despicable

      David publicly humiliating Lisa is sad. He's a bully, in the name of defending others who might be bullied...
      • Bully?

        I'm sure that Lisa will manage to go on with her life; after all, he didn't claim that she was an abomination in God's eyes, or that she was going to hell just because of whom she loves.
        Third of Five
        • I can not see the bullying of Lisa

          David provided all kinds of sources and materials that would explain situation to her.
      • So you know "Lisa"?

        I'm not sure how he publicly humiliated someone that none of us know. Now if he had her full name and picture I might agree with you.

        The truly sad thing here is that someone is so against same-sex marriage that they don't want to buy books from a company that supports it. Everything David wrote is absolutely true. Especially the foundation of Freedom in America. How can restricting something like this fall under American values?
        • She deserves it

          Honestly, Lisa humiliated herself.

          Suppose she had said she wasn't supporting a company that supported civil rights for Blacks or Jews? We would have been all over her for being a bigot.

          How is this different?
          Tyler Rausous