Boycotts related to California Proposition 8
- 1 Publicizing donors over $5,000
- 2 Manchester hotels
- 3 Terry Caster
- 4 Bolthouse Farms
- 5 Independent efforts
- 6 Focus on Mormons
- 7 Post-election boycotts
- 8 External links
- 9 References
- 10 Additional reading
In July 2008, Fred Karger launched the group Californians Against Hate. The initial focus of the group was a boycott of three hotels (two in San Diego and one in Idaho) owned by Douglas Manchester, a sizeable donor to the pro-8 forces. Karger told the New York Times, "Our main beef is the exhaustive amount of money he contributed with glee to take away this brand-new right and to write discrimination into the California Constitution for the very first time."
When the boycott began, supporters of Proposition 8 said that it is intimidation of political opponents. Douglas Manchester, a lead spokesperson for the pro-8 campaign, said, "This really is a free-speech, First Amendment issue. While I respect everyone’s choice of partner, my Catholic faith and longtime affiliation with the Catholic Church leads me to believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman."
Publicizing donors over $5,000
One activity promoted by the boycott group is listing the names of all donors to Proposition 8 of over $5,000. These donors are listed on what the boycott group calls a "Dishonor Roll" on its website.
A website called eight maps was launched by anonymous webmasters in January 2009. It takes the names and ZIP codes of people who donated to the "Yes on 8" campaign and overlays the data on a Google map. Visitors to the website can view markers that give a contributor’s name, approximate location, amount donated and, if the donor listed it, employer.
Testimony from donors to "Yes on 8" says that as a result, they have received death threats and envelopes containing a powdery white substance, according to a February 7, 2009 story in the New York Times.
Chris Jay Hoofnagle, a senior fellow at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California, said, "These are very small donations given by individuals, and now they are subject to harassment that ultimately makes them less able to engage in democratic decision making."
In mid-February 2009, labor groups and opponents of Proposition 8 are continuing to boycott the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego because of the $125,000 donated to "Yes on 8" by Douglas Manchester. Former President Bill Clinton, in order to deliver planned remarks at the hotel on February 15, will most likely have to cross a picket line to do so. Gay-rights activists have urged Clinton to cancel his appearance before the International Franchise Association.
On July 30, boycott organizers expanded the scope of the boycott to include Terry Caster. Caster owns a self-storage company headquartered in San Diego that has 40 locations throughout California. Boycott organizers are asking opponents of Proposition 8 to "Call Terry Caster," asking him why he and his family members have contributed approximately $300,000 to the pro-8 campaign.
- Karger of Californians Against Hate said of the campaign, "We are curious as to why Mr. Caster saw fit to contribute so much money to this campaign of fear and hate. To find out, we are asking our millions of friends and supporters all over the United States to help us by calling Terry Caster and asking him why he and his family are so strongly against marriage equality."
- Karger added, "Mr. Caster and many of his eight sons and daughters and their spouses have given a combined total of $293,000 to the Protect Marriage campaign between January and July of 2008."
In early September, the boycott movement started a "Don't Buy Bolthouse" campaign directed at Bolthouse Farms, a corporation that produces fresh-cut carrots, juices and smoothies. The boycott against Bolthouse was a reaction to the fact that William Bolthouse, Jr., had donated $100,000 to the Proposition 8 campaign.
Action in the boycott included demonstrations at stores carrying the Bolthouse line of jucies--a Ralph's grocery store on Sunset Boulevard and Whole Foods grocery stores at locations in New York City and Washington, D.C.
The anti-Bolthouse effort ended in early October when the CEO of Bolthouse persuaded the organizers of the boycott that donor William Bolthouse had sold his stake in the company in 2005 and when the company agreed to provide a "diversity program designed to support inclusiveness in its dealings with all stakeholders including the LGBT community."
Apart from the organized boycott, there have been individual efforts by opponents of Proposition 8 to draw negative attention to those who support the proposition.
A Chevrolet Suburban whose windows were painted with the slogans "Bigots Live Here," "Stop Bigots" and "God Hates Haters" was parked in front of the Sundstrom family's home in suburban San Jose, California for a 72-hour period between October 17 and October 21. The Sundstroms are a Mormon family that has actively supported passage of Proposition 8 by placing a large banner above their garage reading "Protect Marriage Yes on 8 banner."
Focus on Mormons
According to the San Francisco Chronicle on October 27, "...the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members are increasingly under fire for their support of Proposition 8, which would take away the right of gays and lesbians to marry. In addition to increased protests, online campaigns seek to identify and embarrass Mormons who support the ballot measure."
Nadine Hansen, a Mormon from Utah who opposes Proposition 8, has started an online website, "Mormonsfor8.com," to identify donors to the "Yes on 8" campaign who are Mormons.
Dave Christensen, a Mormon who has donated $30,000 to "Yes on 8," questions why there is so much focus on Mormon involvement in supporting Prop 8 versus focusing on the role of the Catholic church in fighting 8. He believes this is from political expediency, suggesting that Mormons are easier to target than Catholics.
Dante Atkins, the vice president of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats, has started a campaign through the online website, DailyKos, to "embarrass the opposition by pointing out and publicizing any contributors they may have," focusing especially on Mormons because "If one religious group is putting close to the majority of the money and the effort into passing this proposition, it is fair to single them out."
James Dobson, others
In response to the criticisms of the Mormon church, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, the evangelical ministry that has occasionally been harsh in its criticisms of Mormonism, and others started an online petition to register their support for the LDS church. The petition says, in part, ""Anyone who participated in this process has come to admire the competence, diligence and moral courage that so many members of your faith community displayed as part of this coalition effort -- as Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons and people of other faith communities all came together to fight this great battle for marriage."
After the vote, a movement to question the tax-exempt status of the Mormon church arose. The website for the organization encourages people to send letters to the IRS saying that the Church in its activities in support of Prop 8 exceeded what it is allowed to do as a federally tax-exempt organization.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said that the LDS Church "almost certainly have not violated their tax exemption. While the tax code has a zero tolerance for endorsements of candidates, the tax code gives wide latitude for churches to engage in discussions of policy matters and moral questions, including when posed as initiatives."
Organizations that are 501(c)(3), such as the LDS Church, are prohibited from spending more than 20 percent of their budgets on political activities. For large international organizations like the LDS church, the 20% threshold means the church would have had to spend hundreds of millions of dollars - if not billions - to violate its tax-exempt status, according to Lynn, who opposes Proposition 8.
A 60-second television advertisement, "Home Invasion: Vote NO on Prop 8," was aired during the final week of the campaign by the issues committee of the Courage Campaign. In the ad, two canvassers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints invade the home of a lesbian couple, take their wedding rings off their fingers and tear up their marriage license. The ad was denounced by the "Yes on 8" campaign, which said, "This ad reaches new lows of religious bigotry and intolerance."
The Courage Campaign also obtained 17,000 signatures on a letter to the LDS Church calling on the church to end its support for Proposition 8. The letter says, "Your freedoms do not include the ability to take away rights from anyone."
Post-election temple protests
Anti-Proposition 8 activists have demonstrated outside Mormon temples in Oakland and Westwood, California, and in New York City, as well as outside of the LDS temple in Salt Lake City.
Bill Marriott, head of Marriott International, the hotel chain, is a Mormon. He said on November 13 that he did not contribute to the campaign to pass Proposition 8 and that his company did not contribute to the campaign.
Marriott made this announcement after learning that opponents of Prop 8 had called for a boycott of Marriott Hotels because of the LDS Church's broad financial support for the campaign in favor of Proposition 8.
Well-known columnist and gay-rights activist Dan Savage told CNN News in late November that the boycotts are part of the democratic process: "Part of the democratic process is if you throw a punch, you’re going to have a punch thrown back."
Scott Eckern, the artistic director of the California Musical Theatre and Sacramento Music Circus, announced his resignation from these positions on November 12. Eckern had contributed $1,000 to the campaign in favor of Prop 8. When this was discovered after the election, a boycott of the theaters was suggested; in Eckern's resignation notice, he said he was resigning in order to avoid harm coming to the theater groups for which he had worked. Eckern also wrote an apology letter.
Opponents of Prop 8 issued a post-election call to boycott the El Coyote restaurant, a Mexican restaurant located on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. The basis for the boycott was a $100 donation to the "Yes on 8" campaign by Marjorie Christoffersen, who was a manager at El Coyote.
Joe Matthews of Blockbuster Democracy, a supporter of marriage equality, said that he planned to eat at El Coyote in response to the boycott, which he referred to as "part of an insane, counter-productive strategy of mindless rage at anyone or anything tangentially connected to the Prop 8 effort....I can't support the post-election fit of rage -- which appears to be an attempt at political suicide by gay marraige supporters. It's time to calm down, respect the results, figure out what went wrong and then go to work on a strategy to bring marriage equality to California -- and more important, to the country as a whole. This kind of El Coyote madness simply hurts that cause. The exact opposite tactic is needed.
In late December, the restaurant was still struggling from the impact of the boycott. Sections of the restaurant have been closed, and some of the 89 employees have had their hours cut, and layoffs are looming. Many of the employees who are affected by this are themselves gay.
El Coyote opened in 1931.
Rich Raddon, the director of the L.A. Film Festival, resigned in late November. Raddon, a Mormon, supported Proposition 8 and had contributed to the "Yes on 8" campaign. When donors to Proposition 8 were criticized after the election, he resigned twice and Film Independent, the sponsors of the L.A. Film Festival, ultimately agreed to accept his resignation.
In Austin, Texas, a gay community Web site published an "Austin Anti-Gay Blacklist." The list includes the names of individuals and businesses in Austin that contributed money to the "Yes on 8" campaign. The blacklist developers are encouraging consumers not to spend money at businesses that gave to Proposition 8.
About 115 residents of Austin gave about $180,000 to both sides of the Prop 8 campaign; of these, about 20 gave to the "Yes on 8" group.
Austin resident Warren Clark put the blacklist on his website, Warrandderrick.com. Clark said, "We strongly believe that one of the best ways for the gay community to be heard is by speaking with our wallets."
Same-sex marriage supporters plan to boycott the approximately 300 theaters of Plano, Texas-based Cinemark Holdings Inc. after discovering that the company's CEO gave about $10,000 to the "Yes on 8" campaign.
- Californians Against Hate, main boycott website
- Californians against Hate Facebook group
- Boycott Manchester Hotels, a website sponsored by Californians Against Hate
- Call Terry Caster, a website sponsored by Californians Against Hate
- Dump Rick Warren, a website sponsored by Californians Against Hate
- Californians Against Hate, website
- New York Times, "Donations to same-sex marriage foes brings boycott calls," July 17, 2008
- Californians against Hate dishonor roll (dead link)
- New York Times, "Prop 8 Donor Web Site Shows Disclosure Law Is 2-Edged Sword," February 7, 2009
- Sign on San Diego, "Bill Clinton likely to face picketers at Hyatt," February 12, 2009
- Gay and Lesbian Times, "San Diego A-1 Self Storage Company owner targeted for donating to Proposition 8," July 31, 2008
- Los Angeles Times, "Californians Against Hate to end boycott against Bolthouse Farms in fight over gay marriage," October 9, 2008
- Mercury News, "SUV denouncing family's support for Prop 8 is moved," October 22, 2008
- Mercury News, "Same-sex marriage debate growing ugly in San Jose and beyond," October 21, 2008
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Mormons face flak for backing Proposition 8," October 27, 2008
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Online petition thanks LDS Church for Proposition 8 support," November 25, 2008
- How to File an IRS 501(c)(3) Complaint
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Tax-exempt benefit disputed in Proposition 8 campaign," November 28, 2008
- Fog City Journal, "Proposition 8 Ad: Courage Campaign Under Fire From Mormons, ProtectMarriage.com"
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Harsh attacks characterize the Proposition 8 debate," November 1, 2008
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Marriott International did not contribute to the campaign to pass Proposition 8," November 14, 2008
- Grand Junction Free Press, "When marriage debate turns ugly, no one wins," December 1, 2008
- KCRA-3, "Artistic Director Resigns Amid Proposition 8 Boycott," November 12, 2008
- Playbill News, "California Musical Theatre Artistic Director Eckern Issues Apology Following Prop 8 Backlash," November 11, 2008
- The Cornell Daily Sun, "The Proposition 8 Blacklist," November 14, 2008
- Eater LA, "Trickle Down Effect: Opponents Boycott Restos," November 10, 2008
- Shut Up I Know, "Boycott El Coyote Cafe" (dead link)
- Los Angeles Times, "A life thrown into turmoil by $100 donation for Prop 8," December 14, 2008
- Blockbuster Democracy, "Memo to Same Sex Marriage Supporters: Why I'm Dining at El Coyote Tonight," November 12, 2008
- Media Bistro, "Raddon Resigns From L.A. Film Fest Over Prop 8 Flap -- He Was For It," November 25, 2008
- Los Angeles Times, "L.A. Film Festival head resigns over Proposition 8 donation," November 25, 2008
- Austin-American Statesman, "Proposition 8 backlash reaches to Texas," November 25, 2008 (dead link)