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