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Why I'm Giving Up Flame Broiled Chicken For Equal Rights

November 13, 2008

Yesterday I was watching a local news piece on a call for a boycott by Prop 8 opponents of a local restaurant, El Coyote, that was both well intentioned and an overreaction. It seems that Marjorie Christofferson, and employee and the daughter of the manager/owner of the restaurant, gave $100 to the Yes on 8 campaign. What tried to be a conciliatory meeting between the restaurant’s management, Ms. Christofferson, and the boycotters turned into a screaming match worthy of a Jerry Springer episode. While I applaud the idea that as consumers we should be making informed choices about where we spend our hard earned and highly inflated dollars, I don’t necessarily agree that we should punish an entire restaurant and its staff for a $100 contribution made by an employee, as that may not be reflective of the restaurant’s actual position. Even though, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I’m not sure we can punish her father for his daughter’s actions. If we are going to go down that path, then every time I go to Target I will be spending so much time bitch-slapping the parents of unruly and obnoxious children that I’ll never get my shopping done.

However, I do think we should be looking hard at the list of donors to the Yes on 8 coffers and ferreting out the contributions that were made on behalf of businesses and by business owners/operators, because those are indicative of how they as businesses feel about the rights and freedoms of gays and lesbians in this country. One of the most powerful weapons we as a society have are our wallets, and whether we use them to make donations or make purchases, we should use them wisely and effectively. In the same way that I don’t purchase shampoo from people who test their products on furry bunnies and fuzzy puppies, or spend money on movies with Tom Cruise in them because I don’t agree with his take on mental health, I don’t want to spend $9 on a margarita at a bar owned and operated by a homophobe. I’d rather make the trek on the LA Freeways to WeHo to ensure I get my drink from a card carrying, PFLAG waving homosexual – as his business is more likely to make donations to causes I support. For example, after reading a blog post at LAist I will not be eating at any one of the 50 El Pollo Loco restaurants owned and operated by the WKS Restaurant Corporation, whose owner, Roland Spongberg, gave $6,000 to Yes on 8. It also looks like I will be forgoing the Bloomin’ Onion from Outback Steakhouses in California thanks to Mikkel Christensen’s $2000 donation, and I’m sure my list will grow.

In perusing the donor lists myself, I noticed something that did not sit right with me. People from all over the country were making donations to fuel a Californian battle. While I know that what we do here has an impact nationwide, calling the election for Obama 11 minutes after the polls in California closed is proof enough, I don’t really like the idea of “outsiders” trying to influence how our state is run. It is more than enough that California resident Howard Ahmanson, Jr. gave $1,395,000 to Yes on 8. Or that the Mormon Church in California “encouraged” its members to donate generously. But, then you take a look at the donations, like $1,000,000 from Alan Ashton, founder of Word Perfect and former Mission President for the LDS, or $300,000 from Hartford Holdings, LLC of Provo and the 560 other contributors from Utah. By the same token, I don’t appreciate the 2238 donations from gay friendly New Yorkers who contributed to No on 8’s campaign. Albeit the largest individual contribution from NY was $10,000 from actress Anne Hathaway and does not quite compare in fiscal impact. Point is, we might actually have had a fairer fight on our hands had the contributions been restricted to California state residents.

The San Francisco Chronicle has been kind enough to provide a link to the Proposition 8 Contributions database: . In addition, the fine folks at After Ellen have been rooting through some of the different Yes on 8 donors to determine what business contributed: . The community at is including Prop 8 related contributions in their reviews of different venues. These lists aren’t comprehensive, but they are a start and a resource.

Take a look. See what you think. See how your neighbors think. See how your favorite retail and restaurant owners think. Then decide for yourself how best to spend your dollars. I know where mine will and won’t be going.

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