Prop 8-Supporting Salt Car Dealer Wants to Resolve Things with the Gays

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OPERATION BOYCOTT — You donated money to support Prop 8 and strip civil rights away from Americans. And thanks to the same system that lets you donate that money to support a political agenda, your names were added to a public list. And since knowledge is power, that roster of hatred is now being used to keep you from generating another penny that could be used for homophobia. Meet Katharine Garff, who donated $100,000 to support Prop 8, and is now seeing Ken Garff Automotive Group — the auto dealership, with 53 locations in six states, including California and Utah, that her husband is chairman of — placed under boycott. Oh, what’s this? The company now wants to resolve things? March on.

A boycott of one of Utah’s most prominent car dealers remains in place for now, in spite of what both sides described Thursday as an amicable and productive face-to-face meeting aimed at resolving it.

John Garff, president of Salt Lake City-based Ken Garff Automotive Group, and Fred Karger, head of Californians Against Hate, both said a resolution to the conflict was in the works, after a two-hour meeting on Wednesday.

The California group has called for a boycott of 53 Garff dealerships across six states, including California and Utah, in retaliation for a $100,000 campaign donation made by Katharine Garff, matriarch of the Garff family, in support of Proposition 8, last year’s successful initiative to ban same-sex marriage.

Katharine Garff, who was out of town Thursday and unavailable for comment, is company president John Garff’s mother. She made the donation to the pro-Prop 8 group ProtectMarriage.com, a week before the Nov. 4 election, according to filings with the California Secretary of State.

Karger and John Garff said they had agreed to keep the substance of their settlement discussions confidential for now, but both confirmed that Karger was drafting a proposal for steps the company might take to resolve the boycott, following the pair’s meeting late Wednesday at Garff offices.

“Fred and I focused on common ground, and there is plenty of common ground,” Garff said of their meeting, adding that the exchange included details of the company’s extensive history of support for Utah’s gay and lesbian community.

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In addition to having a nondiscriminatory policy on hiring and employment, Garff Automotive is an annual donor to the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign and has donated vehicles to the Utah Pride parade, along with a range of other diversity-promoting causes, Garff said. [Salt Lake Trib]