Metropolitan News-Enterprise: “State Bar Checks Out of Manchester Hyatt”

Dec 21, 2009

 

NEWS RELEASE: STATE BAR CHECKS OUT OF MANCHESTER HYATT

December 22nd, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Fred Karger

December 22, 2009

619-592-2008

Metropolitan News-Enterprise:

State Bar Moves Its 2011 Annual Meeting to Long Beach

By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer

The State Bar of California has reported that it is moving its 2011 Annual Meeting from San Diego to a location in Long Beach.

“This action is being taken on the basis of the bar’s business and convention needs and to make the convention as successful as possible,” a spokesperson for the State Bar said Thursday.

The State Bar was originally scheduled to return to the 1,625-room waterfront Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego where the convention was held this year, but the spokesperson said “there was no availability at facilities throughout the state for a September or October date, which are the preferred months for our meeting because more people are able to come after summer vacations.”

2009 Boycott

Several individual attorneys and legal organizations had objected to the 2009 venue, which was the target of a boycott organized byCalifornians Against Hate, a non-profit organization devoted to drawing attention to the major donors to the Yes on 8 campaign, and UNITE HERE, the hotel workers’ union.

The hotel is owned by the Manchester Financial Group LLC, whose chairman contributed $125,000 towards overturning the rights of same-sex couples to marry, and is operated under lease by the Global Hyatt Corporation.

About 30 protesters with signs chanted slogans and circled the drive of the hotel as the 82nd annual State Bar conference kicked off this past September, followed by a larger protest involving the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers of Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, the Bar Association of San Francisco, Barristers Club, California Employment Lawyers Association, National Lawyer’s Guild and Santa Clara County Bar Association.

LACBA Action

The Los Angeles County Bar Association also declined to host an exhibit at the hotel or participate in any activity at the Hyatt, instead setting up a booth at the nearby Hilton San Diego Bayfront where the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations convened.

Various organizations, including the American Association of Law Schools and the American Association for Justice—formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America—also relocated events that had been scheduled to be held at the Hyatt over the past year.

The State Bar, which had contracted with the hotel to host its 2009 and 2011 annual meetings before the divisive Proposition 8 campaign began, acknowledged strong opposition to the venue from members of the legal community but took the position that it could not breach its contractual commitments because the cost of doing so, if borne by the members, could violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits public entities from using mandatory dues money for political actions.

Contract Renegotiation

A spokesperson from the State Bar said that the organization is renegotiating its contract with the Hyatt to return to the hotel in 2014 and insisted that the 2011 move had nothing to do with the controversy.

“It was all about what’s best for the convention,” which was obtaining a date in September for the event, she explained.

“As a result of the current economy and the bottoming out of the convention market, we were able to obtain September dates in Long Beach,” the spokesperson said, adding that the exact date and location have not yet been determined since the State Bar is in negotiations with multiple facilities.

The 2010 conference is scheduled to take place Sept. 23-26 in Monterey.

Deseret News: “Mormon Congressman Leads Effort to Overturn DC Gay Marriage Law”

Dec 21, 2009

 

NEWS RELEASE: MORMON CONGRESSMAN LEADS EFFORT TO OVERTURN DC GAY MARRIAGE LAW

December 22nd, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Fred Karger

December 22, 2009

619-592-2008

Utah Congressman Chaffetz Leads Effort to Dump Recently Enacted Gay Marriage Law in Washington, DC

Salt Lake City, UT — Mormon freshman Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), ranking Republican on the Congressional subcommittee that oversees Washington, DC, is now trying to undue the District’s new law that allows same-sex marriage in our nation’s capitol. Congress has 30 days to overturn that law.

The president of the National Organization for Marriage, which was created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) two years ago to fight gay marriage throughout the country, announced last week that they would go to the ballot and to the courts to overturn marriage equality in Washington, DC. Well, she left out a third avenue, going to the Congress to veto the new law. Maggie Gallagher, NOM’s President said that they would defeat it, and here they go again.

NOM is very effective. They were responsible for Proposition 8 qualifying for the California ballot last year which ended same-sex marriage there. They were successful in overturning Maine’s gay marriage law last month, having contributed 64% of all money raised ($1.9 million of the $3 million) in that state. Now they have set their sights on our most recent victory in Washington, DC.

“We have been tracking NOM from day one, and while effective, they do all this secretly and utilizing highly questionable practices,” said Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate. “Maggie and executive director Brian Brown are single handidly fighting same-sex marriage in 11 sates, and now Washington, DC, all by themselves — truly amazing.”

“That is why we have called for investigations in California and Maine into their fund-raising, which is shrouded in mystery. In Maine they refused to disclose the names of thier contributors even after being ordered to do so by Federal Judge D. Brock Hornby and Maine attorney General Janet T. Mills.

Both California and Maine are investigating NOM right now, and the California investigation has included the Mormon Church. It has been ongoing for the past 13 months (FPPC Case # 08/735).”

“Now we need a Congressional investigation of the National Organization for Marriage as they come charging into out nation’s capitol to attempt to undo marriage equality there. They must no longer go unchecked,” demanded Karger.

Read the story about Rep. Chaffetz from the Mormon Church owned Salt Lake City Deseret News:

Chaffetz, family differ on gay marriage

By Lee Davidson

Published: Monday, Dec. 21, 2009 11:32 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Gay rights groups are flabbergasted that Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is leading a charge to block gay marriage in the District of Columbia, since his family has some interesting gay and liberal ties.

After all, his father, John Chaffetz, wrote a complimentary book about a gay couple that competed in the “Amazing Race” reality TV show. And liberal, former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis (whose wife, Kitty, was once married to Chaffetz’s father) has been helping the young Chaffetz to pass legislation.

So gay groups are questioning in widespread Internet posts why Chaffetz, with such ties, could do such a thing. They wish aloud that he would listen to his more liberal relations, and stop his pledges to try to overturn a D.C. ordinance signed by its mayor last week to allow gay marriage.

Chaffetz told the Deseret News on Monday that such groups should not hold their breath for that.

“I see my position more as a support of traditional marriage than it is an attack on gay marriage. I think I have a core moral belief in traditional marriage, and I’m willing to stand up and stand tall for traditional marriage,” he said.

Although Chaffetz is a freshman, he is the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee that oversees District of Columbia operations. So he said it is part of that job to announce GOP opposition to the new ordinance, and vow to fight it since federal law gives Congress 30 days to overturn any ordinance passed by the D.C. Council.

“It has led to a whole series of very aggressive personal attacks, but go ahead, I don’t care. It doesn’t phase me much,” Chaffetz said. Many of the attacks draw attention to how his father wrote the book “Gay Reality” about the gay couple of Bill Bartek and Joe Baldassare who gained attention as reality show contestants. And attacks point out Chaffetz’s ties to Dukakis.

But Chaffetz explains, “I am the only member of my family who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am a convert.” He joined the church two months after he graduated from Brigham Young University, where he had been recruited as a football placekicker.

Because of that church background, Chaffetz said he is more conservative than many in his extended family, although he said it does include both Republicans and Democrats.

“My younger brother Alex is about as conservative as it gets, other than maybe Attila the Hun,” he joked. “My older half-brother (John Dukakis — who changed his last name from Chaffetz to match that of his famous stepfather, Michael Dukakis) is about as liberal as it gets.”

That doesn’t mean that Chaffetz hasn’t sought out the opinion of his half-brother, a former actor who had roles in such films as “Jaws 2″ and in such TV series as “Family Ties” and “Taxi.”

“I showed my brother John a draft of a campaign piece we prepared. And he said, ‘I disagree with everything you say here.’ And I thought, ‘We have success. We must be on to something,’” Chaffetz said.

In contrast, Chaffetz said his father is a “very conservative person,” his book about the gay couple notwithstanding. “I’ve talked to him about some things, but not about this (gay marriage).”

While Chaffetz is not biologically related to Michael Dukakis, Chaffetz said they became well acquainted and spent time together because John Dukakis would spend the school year with Dukakis and John’s mother, Kitty, and the summers with his father and his half-brothers, Jason and Alex, and their mother.

Rep. Chaffetz even headed the Dukakis campaign at BYU in 1988, before his conversions to be a Republican and a Mormon. He said he and Dukakis still keep in close contact, and the former Massachusetts governor has helped him make some Democratic contacts needed to do such things as pass House legislation to ban use of “whole-body imaging” machines at airports.

“One of the interesting phenomena is that Michael Dukakis has been very helpful in opening a lot of doors that wouldn’t have been opened otherwise. Some very liberal Democrats have given me the time of day that wouldn’t normally have done so, particularly some of the people from Massachusetts,” Chaffetz said.

“He (Dukakis) is a passionate believer in good public service, and considers party secondary. He wants to do some things that I could never support, but I respect him,” Chaffetz said. “I talked to him the day before yesterday. We keep in contact.”

But, again, Chaffetz said he believes strongly in defending traditional marriage, and no one should expect differently even if he has some liberal friends and family. “I’m my own guy on this one,” he said.

Still, the Utah Log Cabin Republicans on Monday called for him to change, issuing a statement that it wants him to “get back to tending the issues we sent him to Washington to represent, and stop trying to force others to adhere to his misguided interpretation of what makes a real marriage.”

SDGLN.com: “Standoff – Manchester Boycott Leadership vs. American Historical Association”

Nov 26, 2009

 

NEWS COVERAGE: STANDOFF: MANCHESTER BOYCOTT LEADERSHIP VS AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION

November 30th, 2009

sdgln

Standoff: Manchester Boycott Leadership vs American Historical Association

Both Sides Pushing for Most Fruitful Solution

Morgan M. Hurley, CopyEditor Fri, 11/27/2009

Photo credit: Fred Karger Advertising the Manchester Hyatt Boycott at Stockholm PridePhoto credit: Fred Karger Advertising the Manchester Hyatt Boycott at Stockholm Pride

Cleve Jones is furious.

This coming January, the American Historical Association (AHA) is holding their 124th Annual Meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt here in San Diego, despite their knowledge of the ongoing boycott against that property and repeated appeals for them to move venues.

The Grand Hyatt’s owner not only contributed $125,000 to Proposition 8, he helped get it on the ballot. Prop 8 ended marriage equality for millions of Californians when it was narrowly passed in November 2008.

The AHA, founded in 1884, is a Washington D.C. based organization made up of 15,000 scholars and educators across the country, a large number of which are also in the LGBT community. It is the oldest and largest professional organization in the United States.

“I am profoundly disappointed that gay historians will be the first LGBT people to violate this boycott,” said Jones. “It is a slap in the face of the hard work of the LGBT community in San Diego.

“San Diego’s gay community has come so far after decades of struggle in this conservative city, and to have these out-of-towners come in and thumb their nose up – it’s unconscionable.”

Jones, a long-time gay activist and co-founder of the NAMES Project and AIDS Memorial Quilt, is currently the International Director of LGBT Community Programs for the labor union, UNITE HERE (which includes Hotel and Restaurant Employees). SDGLN.com spoke with Cleve at the union’s Local 30 offices in San Diego.

Although the Manchester property is not unionized, UNITE HERE has taken an official stance behind the boycott for several reasons. Most importantly, Jones pointed out, are the large numbers of gays and lesbians within the hospitality industry. Secondly, the LGBT community is also an important target market for the industry.

“UNITE HERE supports full equality for LGBT rights and fights for protections, ENDA inclusive language and health care benefits for employee partners in all contracts, which we just succeeded with in Hawaii,“ explained Jones. “We also look for any opportunity to further relationships with progressives by getting involved in things such as Proposition 8, local elections, and other contracts to support LGBT workers.”

Doug Manchester, a resident of La Jolla, says he contributed $125,000 to Prop 8 on behalf of ProtectMarriage.com because of his Roman Catholic beliefs, but also said that despite this, gays and lesbians are welcome at his hotel.

Said Jones, “He was the second largest individual contributor to get Proposition 8 on the ballot and he has a history of providing financial support to extreme right-wing, anti-gay, anti-worker organizations. He’s a bad guy.”

The boycott was launched in the spring of 2008 as a result of GLAAD pulling major events that corresponded with San Diego Pride out of the Hyatt. The action came after word got out of Manchester’s contribution. Since then, over $7 million dollars in contracts with the Manchester Grand Hyatt have been thwarted as a result of the boycott. Taking into account figures on individual cancellations and other potential lost revenue not tracked or included- it could be millions more.

Several different organizations are providing leadership for the boycott: Californians Against Hate, Courage Campaign, Equality California, and UNITE HERE. Leaders of the boycott have worked closely with dozens of organizations – many of which had been booked years in advance – encouraging their participation and helping them find loopholes in their contracts, if necessary. These same people have offered their services to the AHA but they have not been responsive.

Citing a contract that they finalized six years ago, the AHA states that if they could get out of their contract without facing bankruptcy or extreme hardship, they would. Their cancellation fee is $750,000.

“We looked at the contract very closely,” said Arnita Jones, Executive Director. “There is an anti-strike clause, and if the workers at the Hyatt were participating, we could have opted out, but there are no workers from the hotel on the picket line, and there is no official strike.”

Cleve feels their explanation for moving forward with the contract falls a dollar short.

“This is a labor sanctioned boycott. An official labor boycott,” he said. “I don’t want to lecture historians, but the AHA is being used by Manchester to violate the boycott.”

After the passing of Proposition 8, LGBT members of the AHA brought forth the issue at a smaller annual conference of the AHA last January. As a result, the AHA adopted a resolution, full of ways they could step into the conversation. Much to the chagrin of the boycott leadership, moving their annual meeting from the grounds of the Manchester Grand Hyatt was not one of them.

One of the first things the resolution did put forth was the creation of a LGBTQ Task Force “to take a careful look at all professional concerns of the community – at Grad school, in employment – what can be done to make it more welcoming, more equal, with less discrimination,” explained Arnita.

In addition, a Working Group was launched to advertise, request a call for papers and structure a series of special sessions on same-sex marriage to take place at the Hyatt during their Annual Meeting. In a press release announcing the resolution, the 2010 annual meeting was identified as “an opportunity to seize a significant teaching moment.”

“The AHA has a rich body of research on (the institution of) marriage throughout history, and it’s always been evolving,” she continued. “We think it is very important to take these sessions into the Hyatt and have a scholarly conference, with no specific point of view in mind.” On the AHA website, the Executive Committee refers to the sessions as “scholarly findings that should increase public understanding of the complexity and fluidity of marriage practices.”

The 15 special sessions, according to the AHA website, fall under a special event titled, “Events of the AHA Working Group for Historical Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage.” The sessions span each day of the four day conference, with Paper and Panel Topics on a wide range of related subjects, such as: Gay Marriage and Proposition 8, Reflections; Access Denied: Comparative Biopolitics of Marriage Restriction; Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Marry; and, Male Couples and the Meanings of Same-Sex Love in Turn-of-the-Century Europe and America.

Arnita said the focus of these sessions will be on marriage over time and place, equality in other countries, and changes to marriage in the US. “Just in the last half century, things such as social security and health benefits have been added to marriage. In the early 19th century, women even didn’t have the same rights in a marriage. Marriage has never been static.”

Cleve Jones and others behind the boycott, including Californians Against Hate founder Fred Karger, already upset that the AHA will continue with their conference at the Hyatt, are offended that the AHA would consider holding any session with a LGBT focus inside the hotel that is in the midst of a boycott for LGBT reasons.

“This adds insult to injury – it is outrageous,” said Jones. “It is arrogant of the AHA and not helpful in any way. I recognize it is inconvenient, but standing up for one’s principles is often inconvenient.”

Karger agrees. “If they really want to make a statement, they’d take those sessions outside of the hotel.”

Both men stated they’d be happy to help the AHA find alternative spaces to conduct the special sessions, so people involved do not have to cross the picket line or violate the boycott.

Although the location of the conference remains a touchy subject- the AHA isn’t backing down.

Said Arnita Jones, “It has never been our intention to offend any member of the LGBTQ community. On the contrary, this mini-conference on historical perspectives of same-sex marriage is designed to make a serious and lasting contribution to the conversation on marriage equality. The 15-session event is a major focus of our annual meeting.

“The mini-conference will address the diversity of approaches to marriage and family over time and place,” she continued. “It is a direct response to arguments used by proponents of Proposition 8, that marriage has been the same through the ages and is now changing for the first time. By voting to hold these sessions in the Hyatt, the AHA members wanted to take this information to where we felt it was needed most.”

The AHA also states they are not paying for the meeting spaces, meaning Doug Manchester will not make any money from the meetings specifically. In keeping with their desire to make the sessions as public and as accessible as possible, they’ve even extended an invitation to Manchester, himself.

In addition, alternative hotels in the area have been offered up to the 5,000-6,000 expected attendees, and many are taking advantage of those alternatives. The AHA leadership is also encouraging membership dialogue and debate regarding their decisions, and promises to keep attendees informed of developments.

None of these concessions matter one bit to Cleve Jones, who feels the boycott still needs to be honored.

“Boycotts are a very important weapon and an effective tool,” said Jones. “They give people of conscience who are not directly affected by an issue or struggle the opportunity to support that struggle.”

Now a union employee himself, Jones referenced Cesar Chavez’ 1965 nation-wide boycott of grapes in support of the farm workers union, which lasted five years and ended in agreements suitable to both parties. The whole nation participated in the boycott while the previously unsuitable conditions the boycott was bringing attention to, affected only a specific group of individuals.

“Manchester did real damage to our community. One would think that historians of all people…..” his voice trailed off. Jones has started SleepWithTheRightPeople.com which focuses on gay friendly hotel properties so travelers can plan accordingly. The website also highlights individual LGBT hospitality employees.

Karger, who has been directly involved in assisting organizations out of their contracts; is a little more sympathetic, he understands the predicament of rigid contracts, how binding they can be, and the difficult situation they can put organizations in.

“I appreciate their position, but I hope they will never go back to the Manchester Hyatt again.”

The leaders of the boycott repeatedly stated throughout each interview that the AHA is not considered the enemy to the LGBT community; they just don’t want the AHA supporting the enemy by following through with their conference at the property in question. The AHA, on the other hand, truly wants to educate the masses, including Manchester, with their focus on topics related to the challenges that have always surrounded marriage, as well as the LGBT community.

Both the boycott leadership and the AHA have such strong opinions, and both sides feel they are pushing for the right outcomes. In the end, it appears they will need to agree to disagree, but there may be bruised egos left behind on both sides.

Only one thing is for sure, Cleve Jones will be on the picket line come January, to personally welcome the gay and straight historians of the AHA upon their arrival to Doug Manchester’s Grand Hyatt hotel.