When Marjorie Chrisoffersen, the manager of Los Angeles restaurant El Coyote, was identified for donating $100 to the Yes On 8 campaign, all hell broke loose. An impromptu press conference to resolve the matter between management and its large gay customer base led to tears and fighting. So what lessons can another Prop 8 supporting business owner learn?
Doug Manchester, a hotel owner in San Diego who goes by “Papa Doug,” donated a fat $125,000 to support Prop 8 (no, those aren’t erroneous zeroes), even though he maintained he wasn’t anti-gay. (That’s a logic argument that always ends in FAIL.)
Once his chequebook ledger was discovered, his hotels, including the Manchester Grand Hyatt — one of the largest hotels on the West Coast — were placed on the boycott list in July by groups including Californians Against Hate. And yes, that’s the same Manchester Grand Hyatt where DOMA-signing President Bill Clinton crossed protest lines to attend a paid speaking event.
Turns out Papa Doug — who also owns San Diego’s Grand del Mar Resort and the Whitetail Club and Resort in McCall, Idaho — is missing those gay dollars. He’s reportedly donating $25,000 to “a national organization that promotes civil unions and domestic partnerships” (ahem, not gay marriage), and “is considering offering $100,000 in hotel credit to local gay and lesbian organizations so they can use the Grand Hyatt for events such as fundraisers.” Do the math, and that adds up to $125,000.
And a lot of free press.
Speaking of press, that’s the industry Manchester needs to massage. And to do that, he’s hired Howard Bragman, the storied public relations/crisis management veteran who’s handled Isaiah “Faggot” Washington’s career resuscitation, as well as the orchestrated coming out journeys of golfer Rosie Jones, the WNBA’s Sheryl Swoopes, and the NBA’s former player John Amaechi. Did we mention Bragman is a big gay?
So how’s this all going to work for Manchester? Well, the travel and hotel industries are already suffering from the economy. It doesn’t help that the boycott actually seems to be working, with made groups like the American Trial Lawyers Association yanking their convention dollars from the Grand Hyatt. All of which has us believing Manchester, who supported Prop 8 from a moral position, is now trying to make good based on a business position. It’s not that he’s suddenly come around to supporting equal rights for GLBTs; he just wants our money.
Californians Against Hate’s Fred Karger says he hasn’t heard from Manchester — who supposedly wanted to keep quiet his $25k donation — but, “I’d be delighted to talk.”
Is Manchester’s reversal enough to end the boycott? Are things all smoothed over? Or should gay marriage opponents be forever blacklisted, and never count on gay dollars again?