Archive for February, 2009

Ken Garff Automotive Boycott Ends

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Gay-rights group drops boycott against Garff

Bruce Bastian helped negotiate a deal.

By Tony Semerad
The Salt Lake Tribune

02/27/2009 03:59:02 PM MST

A California gay-rights group announced Friday it is formally ending a boycott of one of Utah’s most high-profile car dealerships.

Californians Against Hate had called for a boycott of Ken Garff Automotive Group’s 53 dealerships in six states in retaliation for a $100,000 donation made by Garff family matriarch Katharine Garff in support of Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban, part of a total of $3.8 million donated for and against Prop 8 by Utahns.

The same-sex-marriage ban is now being challenged in Calfornia Supreme Court.
Fred Karger, director of Californians Against Hate, said Friday the two-week boycott of Ken Garff Automotive Group was being called off immediately, following a series of meetings that included face-to-face discussions between company principals John and Robert Garff and Utah philanthropist Bruce Bastian, a leading gay-rights advocate.

“We’re just ecstatic,” said Karger, who said his group was moving swiftly to take down a Web site and other Internet presences associated with the boycott. “It’s a wonderful situation … a happy ending.”

Said Bastian: “We were able to discuss this openly and honestly with the Garffs and reach an understanding. I think they understand now why this was upsetting and hurtful to many people.”
The former Word Perfect executive said, among other steps, the Garff company would be formally adopting “a non-discriminatory company policy, even though they are pretty much there already.”
Bastian declined to outline any other conditions of the settlement.

John Garff, the company’s CEO, has insisted that his mother’s $100,000 donation was a personal gesture and in no way reflected the company’s political stance.

He declined to comment further Friday, except to say, “I believe we all came away from those meetings with a greater level of mutual respect and understanding.”

Statements on End of Ken Garff Automotive Group Boycott

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Fred Karger, Founder, Californians Against Hate

“Two weeks ago, we called for a boycott of Ken Garff Automotive Group at a Salt Lake City news conference. A reporter there asked me if I would be willing to meet with John Garff, CEO of the company. A few hours later, I was in his office. We had a wide ranging and very productive 2 hour meeting.

John Garff and his father, Robert Garff, later met with Utah philanthropist and leader in the national LGBT community, Bruce Bastian. The purpose of that meeting was to share perspectives and to discuss a variety of issues in an effort to find mutual respect and understanding. As a result of this meeting, I am pleased to announce that Californians Against Hate will immediately end its boycott of the Ken Garff Automotive Group.”

Bruce Bastian, LGBT Philanthropist

“Last Friday, I met with Robert and John Garff. I believe that both Robert and John left the meeting with a better understanding of my work, the LGBT community, and the emotional significance of the passing of Proposition 8 to our community. I believe the Garff family now fully understands how sensitive and important this issue is to our community and to their friends and neighbors.

As Utah progresses towards an era of equality for all families, I am extremely grateful to the Garff family for being willing to listen to the community in which they reside and do business. I look forward to working together towards a better future for all.”

John Garff, CEO, Ken Garff Automotive Group

“In response to the Ken Garff Automotive Group boycott that was called for by Californians Against Hate, I met with Fred Karger, its founder. My father, Robert, and I subsequently met with Bruce Bastian, a national LGBT philanthropist with local ties to Utah. I believe we all came away from those meetings with a greater level of mutual respect and understanding.”

Salt Lake City Press Conference

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Special thanks go out to for posting much of the TV coverage from Fred Karger’s February 11th press conference. The coverage is titled Mr. Karger Goes to Utah: