Pacific Gas and Electric Co., California’s largest investor-owned utility, has contributed $250,000 to defeat a ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage in the state, it was announced Tuesday.
Businesses often steer clear of ballot measures that deal with social issues for fear of alienating customers.
But PG&E officials said the San Francisco-based company’s effort to defeat Proposition 8 on the Nov. 4 ballot is consistent with its long-time advocacy of equality for all.
Darlene Chiu, a PG&E spokeswoman, said in the 1990s the company contributed to efforts to defeat initiatives that curtailed affirmative action and attempted to crack down on illegal immigration.
“PG&E was also the first utility in the nation that sponsored a (lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender) association in the ’80s,” Chiu said.
PG&E serves more than 15 million Californians in Northern and Central California.
Chiu said the money for the campaign will come not from ratepayers, but from shareholder-funded political contribution accounts.
PG&E’s contribution is the largest corporate and only utility donation received by the No on 8 campaign.
Geoff Kors, a member of the No on 8 campaign committee, said the campaign is “thrilled to partner with PG&E to ensure that the laws of our state are not used to treat people unfairly.”
Jennifer Kerns, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 8 campaign, said campaign officials were not surprised by PG&E’s announcement.
“As a heavily regulated monopoly in California, PG&E can make decisions such as this without regard to their customers or fear of boycott,” Kerns said.