When Doug Manchester tried to buy his way back into the good graces of the gay community, plenty of you scoffed. Manchester, who donated $125,000 to support Prop 8, now finds himself wishing he didn’t, which is why he (and his gay publicist Howard Bragman) were so proud to announce they would donate $25,000 to an organization (that supported only civil unions) and offer $100,000 in credits to gay and lesbians to stay at his hotels, which include the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Too bad nobody wants his blood money.
After Manchester’s donation was revealed, a boycott was quickly put in place. Not only did gay and lesbian travels cancel their reservations, but so too did gay-friendly organizations who yanked their conference dollars. One estimate pegs that total losses Manchester suffered at $7 million, which is even more significant for those in the travel industry given the current economy. And making it worse for Manchester? Nobody wants his stinkin’ money. Not even Joe Solmonese! Gay & Lesbian Times:
The Human Rights Campaign announced it would not accept the $25,000, and Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate says his coalition is not budging. Manchester’s offer of $100,000 in hotel credits and services merely seeks to divide the GLBT community on the boycott, he says.
Manchester and Bragman had hoped to bypass such boycott organizers by taking the offer right to gay travel professionals, the press and the blogosphere, and at first some may have been tempted by his offer of $100,000 in free hotel credits to deserving San Diego GLBT groups and puzzled by his sudden concern about local GLBT groups. After all, it’s a very difficult time for nonprofits, and that kind of gesture is not insignificant.
Bragman was banking on groups taking advantage of the free room and meeting credits crossing the picket lines. In turn, he hoped Manchester could claim he was actually helping local groups and thereby marginalize Karger and his coalition.
But Karger and his coalition of community and union leaders stood firm. No local organization would cross a picket line or take money. With the boycott as well known as it is, who would even show up for the event, knowing there is an ongoing GLBT and labor boycott?
Meanwhile, some of the shit in this storm is being thrown at publicist Bragman, a gay man who Manchester hired to get him out of this mess.
He dismisses Manchester’s views as understandable given Manchester’s age (66) and religion (Catholic). And he says lack of bridge building, not donations by wealthy donors such as Manchester, is to blame for Proposition 8’s passage. “That’s why we lost Prop. 8, not enough bridge building,” Bragman said in one press story. Sounds like a feeble attempt to justify working for one of Proposition 8’s biggest supporters. Sadly, Bragman married his partner during the summer and so has every reason to want Proposition 8 to be struck down. But it seems that all the Benjamins Manchester is throwing at him made Bragman forget his own words.
Bragman wrote a commentary for the Huffington Post last November saying, “To my brothers and sisters in the GLBT movement and our friends, I urge you to use every legal and moral tool at your disposal to change hearts and minds. Peaceful protests, boycotts and community organizing are the tools of our trade and ultimately the things that will win this struggle.”
What’s worse: A Catholic bigot like Manchester who thinks he can dupe us in to forgiving him with a little cash? Or Bragman, a member of our own community, who’s perfectly fine accepting cash from folks like Manchester and, previously, Isaiah “Faggot” Washington?