The American Historical Association learned the hard way about crossing the boycott line in front of Doug Manchester’s Hyatt hotel in San Diego: People will scream at you! With organized protests against the Prop 8-supporting hotelier popping up anytime a large organization plans on holding a convention at the property comes word the State Bar Association of California has nixed plans to hold its 2011 conference at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. But not because they’re scared of some angry homos.
The official reason for the Bar Association’s move? Finances! In this economy, hotels are frothing at the mouth to attract money-making conventions, which guarantee huge blocks of rooms are rented out in addition to collecting fees for conference room use. Which means the State Bar got a better deal elsewhere. In Long Beach! Or at least that’s their public position, negating the argument made by Californians Against Hate’s Fred Karger, who insists it was the public pressure — and in-fighting among the group’s local and LGBT chapters — that has them heading elsewhere for the 2011 conference. As Karger notes, last year’s Bar Association convention was held at the Manchester Hyatt, and attracted a maelstrom of negative publicity and outcries.
But if the Manchester boycott is the real reason the Bar Association is changing locales, why not own up to it? Perhaps not to infuriate Doug Manchester, whom they might return to when all the hubbub dies down. Or to insist they won’t cave to public pressure. Either way, the change means many fewer zeroes in Manchester’s pocket.
(NB: Ridiculously, in reporting on the story, San Diego’s Gay and Lesbian Times argued “not everyone in the GLBT community supports the boycott’s efforts,” but the only person they quoted as disagreeing with the boycott is gay publicist Howard Bragman, whose client is none other than Manchester himself. That’s not a showing of “lack of support”; that’s a showing of “supporting my bill-paying client’s interests.”)