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Did the Latest Protest of Doug Manchester’s Hyatt Hotel Accomplish Anything?

C’mon, that’s like asking whether any protest accomplishes anything. But to answer the question, you have to know what goal there was. And in this case, it was an 11th hour appeal to the American Historical Association to pull an about-face and opt not to holds its annual conference on the grounds of (and fund the pockets of) Doug Manchester’s massive San Diego Hyatt hotel.

It didn’t work, of course, and the show went on.

But that doesn’t mean the First Amendment wasn’t getting a vigorous workout as a couple hundred activists on Saturday took to the streets to remind everyone that the owner of the Manchester Grand Hyatt was a major donor to the Prop 8 cause, even though he’s now renounced-ish his support (in a sad attempt at winning over the gays).

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Cleve Jones, who’s been railing against Manchester for some time and called the AHA’s meeting a “slap in the face,” and some friends were on the scene with the megaphones and the signs for a media-friendly staging. But were protesters willing to give AHA a fair shake? Inside Higher Ed reports:

The AHA argued that it couldn’t cancel its contract with the Hyatt without facing huge fees [a reported $800,000] that would have endangered the association’s finances. In a gesture to those who wanted to cancel the Hyatt events, the AHA added a series of special scholarly sessions on gay marriage and issues related to sexual orientation. But even though the meeting used more than one hotel, most of these sessions were at the Hyatt, forcing gay scholars and other supporters of gay equal rights to enter the hotel (even if many of these attendees made a point of staying elsewhere — and of buying their coffee or snacks off site).

Some AHA members said that they were staying away from this year’s meeting altogether, as a protest. But while attendance was down, most here said that the drop was largely due to the poor economy, and the resulting drop in the number of job interviews going on (not to mention smaller or non-existent travel budgets). Events at the Hyatt were not visibly less attended than those at the Marriott next door.

We just hope they took all the complimentary soaps and shampoos to really stick it to Manchester.