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San Diego
Hotelier Facing Gay Boycott Talks

San Diego
Hotelier Facing Gay Boycott Talks


Southern California LGBT activists are mobilizing forces against San Diego's powerful hotel baron Doug Manchester for financially supporting an effort to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in the state.

Southern California LGBT activists are mobilizing forces against San Diego's powerful hotel baron Doug Manchester for financially supporting an effort to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in the state.

Manchester -- the owner of San Diego's glamorous Manchester Grand Hyatt and Grand Del Mar hotels as well as the Whitetail Club and Resort in McCall, Idaho -- donated $125,000 to help get Proposition 8, a measure that could amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, on the ballot. Now Manchester is facing a gay boycott of his hotels and a protest in front of the Grand Hyatt on Friday.

"I'm sick and tired of this," said Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, the group organizing the boycott and protest. "These people are motivated out of fear and hate."

The local labor movement is supporting the boycott and protest, and Manchester feels he's being singled out because the Grand Hyatt is not unionized. "It's really interesting the Mormon Church is supporting this amendment and Bill Marriott is one of the largest contributors to the Mormon Church and you don't see the San Diego Marriott being picketed on Friday," Manchester said. "I think there's a double standard here, and I think it's because they're singling out our hotel to drive a wedge for purposes of unionization. It's my opinion that the unions have bankrupted the auto industry and the airline industry. Frankly, I feel now they're trying to bankrupt the hotel industry."

Manchester went on to say, "I appreciate our gay and lesbian workers whose contributions have helped us achieve our success."

Manchester is a devout Catholic, who says his contribution was solicited by the church. "Basically, this is a free speech-First Amendment issue," he said. "While respecting partnership choices, my contribution was based on my longtime affiliation with the Catholic Church. I'm sorry my donation has caused a difficult situation." Manchester added that he didn't regret donating the money.

Manchester has previously stated he welcomes LGBT guests to his hotels, to which Karger said, "[Gay] money can't be turned around and used against us." Manchester responded by saying, "We welcome and support all gays and lesbians for their support of our restaurants and hotels as we have since we opened. But 64% of Californians voted for an initiative [2000's Proposition 22, which banned same-sex marriage by statute but did not amend the constitution] that was overturned by a couple of judges. Civil unions and partnerships, I don't have any problem with. The problem is, I was advised by our church that if a [teacher] in a school were to state their opinion that marriage should be between a man and a woman, they would lose their funding. That's discrimination the other way."

Manchester cited an alleged instance in the Bay Area in which a teacher was punished for saying marriage should be a union between a man and a woman, but that incident couldn't be confirmed. "If there was a guarantee that someone could exercise their own beliefs without being penalized," Manchester said, "then I wouldn't have any objection to [same-sex marriage]."

Friday's protest -- called the March on Manchester, A Demonstration and Rally Against Hate -- will take place outside the Grand Hyatt and is expected to draw many LGBT people and supporters from the San Diego area. Karger and his group are leading the charge in getting the word out, telling all same-sex marriage supporters to turn their back on Manchester and his hotels. Manchester said he'll be playing in a golf tournament out of the city.

Californians Against Hate has already convinced a Bay Area business not to bring its convention to the Manchester Grand Hyatt, Karger said, noting that a Pride event sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and planned for the Hyatt this weekend -- to coincide with San Diego Pride -- has already been canceled. GLAAD spokesman Damon Romine confirmed the organization canceled its "Pride Rocks" party in April, as soon as it became aware of Manchester's contributions.

"I'm sorry they feel that way," Manchester said in regard to the cancellations.

Manchester isn't the only Southern California businessman to donate to Proposition 8. Karger said most of the money for the ballot initiative has come from Orange and San Diego counties and pointed out that both financier Howard Ahmanson Jr. and developer Terry Caster have donated $400,000 and $283,000, respectively, to ban same-sex marriage in California.

"We're going to be publicizing every mayor donor," Karger said.

Click here for more information on the boycott and protest. (The Advocate)

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