"Papa Doug" Doug Manchester, chairman of Manchester Financial Group and owner of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego and the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina, among other properties, donated $125,000 to support the signature drive that got Prop 8 on the ballot. As a result, Californians Against Hate has staged a successful boycott along with Cleve Jones and the Courage Campaign.
Kelly Cummerford, director of sales for Manchester Grand Hyatt, and who himself is gay, was met with boos and hisses as he went up to announce at Friday's International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association convention in Toronto, that Manchester was donating $25,000 directly to LGBT civil rights groups and another $100,000 in hotel credits for LGBT fund-raising events.
Howard Bragman, the openly gay public relations/crisis management veteran who was hired by former Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington after reportedly directing an antigay slur at costar T.R. Knight, told The Advocate that "Mr. Manchester’s beliefs were clearly misconstrued. He did give $125,000 to Yes on 8 and he is opposed to the concept of religious gay marriage. However, he is in no way homophobic and is 100% in favor of gay people having every legal right that straight people have. This is an attempt to clarify his position."
Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate dismissed this statement.
"It’s an insult to the gay and lesbian community and our labor allies that he is attempting after 10 months to go around us and buy his way out of this boycott," Karger related to the Advocate. "Manchester told [Cummerford] that he had lost $7 million due to this boycott. If that is the number he admits to, then I assume it is a lot higher. Our boycott has been very effective. For example, the latest blow is the National Trial Lawyers Association, who just announced that they were moving their convention of 2,000 lawyers not only from Manchester's hotel but from San Diego entirely. Their event is in July and they are moving to San Francisco, so at great expense to them, in order to show solidarity."
Though the money was offered to the HRC, they declined to accept it.
"In either case it's a divide-and-conquer attempt," Karger said. He added, "It is a step but this is not the way a boycott is ended. And though we would be happy to sit down with him at anytime to discuss this, until then our boycott will continue with more resolve."
Read related Unite the Fight piece by Boo Jarchow, reporter for The Advocate and SheWired.com: "LGBT Rights Activists Demand an End to 'Hyatt Hypocrisy.'"
Read Fred Karger's full statement at MikeTidmus.com.