Archive for May, 2009

Manchester should bridge the rift with apology

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Manchester & Bragman Coverage!!!

editorial LINK: GLT San Diego – Editorial

Manchester should bridge the rift with apology

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When Doug Manchester, owner of three San Diego hotels including the Manchester Grand Hyatt, gave $125,000 to help qualify Proposition 8 for the ballot, it’s unlikely he foresaw a boycott by the GLBT community. But even if he had, he likely wouldn’t have cared. In fact, when a coalition of union labor and GLBT organizations began the Boycott Manchester campaign, internal communications leaked to the public show he didn’t.

Most estimate that, as of this month, Manchester has about seven million reasons to wish he had. That’s the estimated amount the 10-month boycott has cost him so far. The boycott is headed up by Californians Against Hate and UNITE Here Local 30 labor union and supported by San Diego Pride at Work, San Diego LGBT Pride, and many other community leaders. It’s been so successful, Manchester is now trying to make amends with the GLBT community.

To get him out of the doghouse, Manchester hired openly gay crisis PR guy, Howard Bragman from Los Angeles. It took Bragman three months to come up with his crisis PR plan – a “settlement” to end the boycott, which he announced last Friday at the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s (IGLTA) annual convention in Toronto, Canada.

Bragman sent Manchester’s marketing director, Kelly Commerford, to make the pitch. Commerford – making it quite clear that he is gay – announced the offer to the 350 gay and lesbian travel professionals at a Hyatt-sponsored luncheon. He said Doug Manchester would offer $25,000 to a national organization that supports domestic partnerships and civil unions and make available $100,000 in hotel credits to GLBT organizations.

The settlement – or blood money as we see it – is laughable. In Toronto, it was boo-able, and that’s exactly what those present at the luncheon did, booing and hissing Commerford right out of the luncheon. He, along with three other Hyatt executives, never returned to the convention.
On a positive note, we will say thank you to Commerford for bringing the boycott to even more travel agents’ attention. With Pride season right around the corner, we hope that national travel agents who are booking travel for GLBT folks attending Pride will be mindful of the boycott.
Things aren’t going much better for Manchester back home.

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?
And Bragman’s own rhetoric is troublesome on two points.

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.”

Rather than offering lip service, perhaps Manchester should create a more direct dialogue with union and community leaders. Anyone want to invite “Papa” Doug and his new gay step-child Bragman to a town hall forum? We’d certainly be game.

As a community, we should be proud that we do not accept blood money. We do not allow money to talk its way out of hateful actions.

As a community we should stand behind the coalition of community and labor organizations as they continue the Manchester Boycott. When Manchester is prepared to meet with union and community leaders, then the real dialogue can happen. Until then, Boycott Manchester’s hotels.
As for you Mr. Manchester, let us give you some advice on what to do when you’ve made a mistake. I’m sure it’s quite similar to what you taught your children to do, as we’ve taught ours.
Say, “I’m sorry I made a mistake. I’ve realized how unAmerican it is to deny any citizen of this great country the same civil rights others are afforded. Nothing less than full civil marriage for every American is acceptable. In the beginning of this debate, as it was first explained to me, the church would be involved. Thank God we live in a country that separates those two institutions. I sincerely apologize for my misunderstanding, and to help right my wrong I am writing a check of equal value to the ‘No on 8’ campaign to level the playing field.” Sign it: Doug Manchester.

There’s no need to hire an expensive, sellout PR firm. Just a simple heartfelt apology directly from you will do. Isn’t that the way you taught your children to do the right thing? Perhaps simple and heartfelt will go a lot further than the lengths you are jumping to bridge the rift you’ve created.

san diego
Doug Manchester offers to pay donation to gay groups
Manchester boycotts will continue

by Kenneth Harvey, Editorial Intern LINK: GLT San Diego – Story

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate hands out boycott materials
at the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Convention in Toronto last
weekend. Photo courtesy of Californians Against Hate

On May 8, Kelly Commerford, the marketing director for the Manchester Grand Hyatt announced at the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Convention in Toronto that Doug Manchester, the owner of the hotel, will give $125,000 to the gay community.

“Mr. Manchester is giving us [the GLBT community] a $25,000 personal donation and a $100,000 in kind,” Howard Bragman, Manchester’s public relations professional said. “These [funds] will go to gay groups to be determined,” he added, reiterating his support for gay and lesbian civil rights and civil partnership.

Many believe Manchester’s donations are in response to the backlash from the boycott waged against the Manchester Grand Hyatt for Manchester’s $125,000 donation to the “Yes on 8” campaign last summer.

A coalition of labor leaders and supporters of same-sex marriage announced last July, a full-scale boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt and other Manchester-owned properties. The coalition – which includes labor union UNITE Here Local 30, nonprofit organization Californians Against Hate, and is supported by City Councilmember Todd Gloria, San Diego Pride at Work, San Diego LGBT Pride and a number of community leaders – aims to inform Californians about Manchester’s contributions.

“I don’t think it’s because he suddenly cares about the rights of the LGBT community,” UNITE HERE president Bridgette Browning said. “I think he’s losing a lot of money. I think the travel industry universally recognizes that the LGBT community is a very profitable community for them to have staying in their hotels and patronizing their establishments.”

Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, was in Toronto during the announcement and says his organization along with labor unions will continue to boycott Manchester’s properties. The San Diego Hotelier owns three hotels, The Manchester Grand Hyatt, the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina, and The Grand Del Mar.

“[We will boycott] at an increased pace because of this [offer],” he said. “The organizers of the boycott are not intending to end the boycott because of his offer.”
Karger added gay organizations are under pressure to accept Manchester’s offer because of the economic downturn.

“I think it’s a sad situation because groups are in such need of money,” he said. “That creates a huge problem and puts all of these gay organizations in a very awkward position. I’m sure they would like to take the credits at the hotel. Who do you think would show up?”
Browning also confirmed UNITE HERE’s boycotts will continue.

The boycotts were also in response to poor working conditions. According to Browning and Karger, no attempt has been made at mending the relationship between Manchester and labor. Bragman was not able to comment on Manchester’s issues with labor, because he works with GLBT issues.

“Neither UNITE HERE nor any of the other organizations have heard from Mr. Bragman and Mr. Manchester,” Karger said, noting that he was approached by Manchester last July for a settlement. “My first question was ‘does this include the labor portion?’ They said no. We have nothing to discuss if we’re not going to discuss both.”

Bragman said he was not working with Manchester at the time of the alleged offer and was not able to confirm any information. Karger said if the GLBT community was offered a similar settlement as last year’s alleged settlement, “that would be different.”

“He’s trying to force people to come to the hotel, but he’s going to fail. It’s a dumb idea,” Karger said.

Bragman has come under scrutiny because he is a gay man and is working for Manchester.
“As far as personal criticism, I think people should look into my three decades of work in the GLBT community – what I have achieved, who I have represented and the awards I have been honored to receive,” Bragman said. “If people want to discount me or my work because of [my work with Manchester], so be it. I know who I am, what I’ve done and am very comfortable in my own skin.”
Bragman believes the GLBT community lost the battle over Proposition 8 because of a lack of communication.

“I believe the reason we lost Prop. 8 is because we didn’t build bridges to certain communities,” he said. “If we’re going to win in the future, we need to build bridges. When people offer an olive branch, we should be willing to accept it. I am trying to [help my client] begin a dialogue, build a bridge and find common ground.”

Bragman asserts Manchester is not homophobic.

“We hope the community will understand that this is not a homophobic man. This is a man who came to his beliefs because of his religious upbringing. I hope the community understands this is a man of great dignity. It’s not easy to say I made a mistake,” Bragman said.

Manchester is Roman-Catholic. It was also announced at the convention that Manchester supports civil unions and domestic partnerships but not same-sex marriages.

“Before Prop. 8, there was a great relationship [between the Manchester Grand Hyatt and] the [GLBT] community. We want to get that back,” Bragman said.


Hotelier Doug Manchester Can Keep His Blood Money
Link: Queerty
Lavendar Newswire Coverage
Best Take Yet on Doug Manchester’s Backhanded Blood-Money Buy-Off
Link: Lavender Newswire

Manchester’s Not So Surprise Attack – Divide and Conquer

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Statements by Fred Karger and Brigette Browning regarding Today’s Proposal from Doug Manchester’s re our
Manchester Hotel’s Boycott

Statement by Fred Karger, founder, Californians Against Hate;

On July 18, 2008 we partnered with many LGBT individuals and organizations and Unite Here Local 30, to call for a boycott of Doug Manchester’s two San Diego hotels; the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel and the Grand del Mar Hotel. This was done to let the world know that Doug Manchester gave $125,000 to end gay marriage in California.

Over the past 10 months, the boycott has been very successful. Countless groups and individuals have canceled well over 100,000 room-nights. Over 12 large meetings and conventions have left the hotel. Many others have stopped eating and drinking at his boycotted properties. At the Manchester Grand Hyatt alone, after just 4 months they said that they had lost $2.4 million. Now they are saying that over $7 million has been lost from the boycott. It’s probably much higher.

Recently the Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported that the 2,000 + attorney members of the American Association of Justice are leaving the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego and instead taking their annual 2009 convention to San Francisco.

Doug Manchester approached us last summer, just 10 days after we called the boycott, with an offer to settle. That offer did not address any labor issues on behalf of our boycott partner, Unite Here Local 30, and we rejected his offer then and we reject his offer today. He is clearly trying to buy his way out of this, and it will not work.

Two months ago Mr. Manchester hired well known gay PR agent Howard Bragman from Los Angeles to try and give him PR advice to stop the hemorrhaging of business at his hotels. Howard Bragman appears to have given Mr. Manchester bad advice. An end to such a long and emotional boycott should not be first offered in the public square. Mr. Manchester is a very successful businessman, and I am sure he has been involved in lots of negotiations. He knows that this is not the way business is done.

Messrs. Manchester and Bragman are attempting to buy their way out of the boycott and divide the LGBT community, and that will not work. Their proposal is a real slap in the face to the gay community and to all fair minded people who believe in equality and support full civil rights for all gays and lesbians. Their feeble attempt to give free hotel rooms and services to try and lure people back to the Manchester Grand Hyatt and make them cross the union picket line is a dumb idea that will fail.

If Mr. Manchester is truly serious about ending the boycott, I am sure that we along with our boycott partners would be willing to sit down with him and listen to his proposal.

Californians Against Hate has called for national boycotts of four of the largest contributors to last year’s Yes on Proposition 8 campaign. The Manchester Hotels boycott was the first. Two of the boycotts were settled within weeks of calling them when the companies approached us directly and we met and negotiated a settlement.

Only our Boycott of Manchester Hotels and the Boycott of A-1 Self Storage remain. San Diego based A-1 Self Storage owner Terry Caster and his family gave $793,000 to Prop. 8 to take away marriage from millions of Californians. Caster told the San Diego Union-Tribune one year ago that marriage equality threatens society. “Without solid marriage, you are going to have a sick society,” he said. Caster encouraged his friend Doug Manchester to give his $125,000 to the campaign, the newspaper reported.

Statement by Brigette Browning, President of UNITE HERE Local 30 in response to Doug Manchester’s ‘apology’

Contact: Dan Rottenstreich – Unite Here! Local 30 619-516-3737 x 306

Today we learned that Doug Manchester, owner of the boycotted Manchester Hyatt hotel, attempted to apologize for his $125,000 contribution that qualified Proposition 8 for the ballot last year. As part of his apology, he is contributing money and donating hotel services to undisclosed LGBT groups. I have not heard directly from Mr. Manchester, but if these reports are accurate, this is not an adequate response. Our boycott is not over.

Mr. Manchester’s money helped qualify and pass Proposition 8 last November. An apology is too little, too late from Mr. Manchester who consistently spoke in favor of Proposition 8 throughout the campaign. Further, his statement did not address the lack of job security and onerous housekeeper workload at the Manchester Hyatt that motivated the union to boycott the hotel in the first place.

We are happy to engage in a conversation about what it would take to end the boycott. However, that conversation can only be had if Mr. Manchester agrees to sit down with hotel workers and the gay community and meaningfully addresses both our community’s issues. We are ready.

Carrie Prejean: Junior Miss Bryant

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Carrie Prejean: Junior Miss Bryant

Beauty queen revives memories of Florida’s past with orange juice boycott


MAY. 7, 2009

For those of us living in Florida, the story is particularly familiar: a failed beauty pageant contestant spews anti-gay sentiment in front of any camera that crosses her path.

We are subjected to nightly news stories featuring a pretty bigot espousing hate speech. Extremist evangelicals come out of the woodwork to promote their interpretation of the Bible, and bask in the shared glow of 15-minutes of fame.

Our community thought we heard the last of Anita Bryant after her gay bashing came to an abrupt halt thanks to the wildly successful orange juice boycott. Fast forward 30 years and enter Carrie Prejean — Junior Miss Bryant.

The similarity of the two women is almost comical. Anita Bryant was Miss Oklahoma and a second-runner in the 1959 Miss America pageant. One of Bryant’s evangelical mentors was the notorious Jerry Falwell, the bigoted televangelist who was most known for hate speech. Falwell had a very profitable career heading the Thomas Road Baptist Church — a megachurch based in Lynchburg, Va., where he used his pulpit to frequently criticize gays, feminists, and non-evangelicals.

Falwell and Bryant partnered up in Dade County on the so-called “Save Our Children” campaign. They used silly lies in an attempt to scare the American public with statements like, “If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters.”

Like Anita Bryant, Carrie Prejean also had an unsuccessful attempt at winning a crown — her bid was for the Miss USA pageant. Prejean has her own evangelical mentor — Miles McPherson of the Rock Church, a former football player turned megachurch pastor, who is well-known for his hate speech towards gays. Miles has been quoted as saying, “The attack is not from the gay lobby. Here’s who the enemy is: it’s the devil!”

Unfortunately, the Miss USA competition does not require a “talent” to participate in the pageant, so we’ll never know if Prejean can hold a tune quite as well as Bryant. Bryant was at least an accomplished singer long before her failed Miss America run. What talent does Prejean have? It is safe to say that public speaking is not her forte when her best attempt at explaining herself is prefaced with a very juvenile-sounding “no offense.” The qualifier “no offense” generally drops from one’s repertoire sometime around junior high, but apparently, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) thinks this is a true gem. In fact, they have launched an official “No Offense” campaign in honor of Miss California and her views against gay marriage.

Although we don’t know yet what lies in store for Miss Prejean, we do know how the Anita Bryant story played out. Bryant was signed on as spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission, but a national boycott was called in response to her anti-gay stance; the boycott was successful, delivering a blow to Florida orange juice products, and as a result the Florida Citrus Commission failed to renew her contract. She subsequently lost all of her other major sponsorships. She got divorced, and then remarried; she and her new husband attempted to revitalize her singing career and failed. They filed for bankruptcy (twice). Then Miss Bryant did what any self-respecting, twice-married, twice-bankrupt evangelical should do — started her own church. She now heads Anita Bryant Ministries International.

Although NOM isn’t exactly an official sponsor of Carrie Prejean, they are certainly are capitalizing on her image. In an effort to comply with Miss California regulations, NOM and Prejean are attempting to portray her as a “private-citizen” who is not officially aligned with the group.

But Keith Lewis, who runs the Miss California pageant, issued the following statement: “Given the fact that Carrie Prejean’s first act upon returning to California was to headline five services at a church that promotes homosexuality as both unnatural and abnormal, we stand by our concern for her individual image and look forward to a time in the near future when she can put down her personal agenda.”

Her personal agenda seems to be moving forward at full force—considering the “semi-nude” photographs of Prejean that have “mysteriously” appeared on the internet, which could cause her to be stripped of her 2nd Place win. Is it possible then she is purposefully attempting to lose her title in a move for more publicity?

We can only hope that the “Junior Miss Bryant” media circus is coming to a close. This whole phenomena has only served to detract from the real issue at hand: millions of tax-paying Americans are denied basic civil rights each and every day and are denied fair and equal access to healthcare. In most states it is illegal for us to marry the one that we love and the only option we have to protect our families is to create expensive legal contracts that can be contested in a court of law. Although it is disappointing that a failed beauty queen is using this important issue to gain a few minutes of fame and promote her own personal agenda — it is certainly not surprising, especially to those of us in Florida.