Against Hate founder Fred Karger has denied charges by the
Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel that his organization's ongoing boycott
against the hotel is motivated by a “hidden union agenda.”
The group is boycotting owner Doug
Manchester's two San Diego hotels, the Manchester Grand Hyatt and the
Grand Del Mar, and his McCall, Idaho resort, the Whitetail Club, due
to the hotelier's $125,000 donation in support of Proposition 8 –
the ballot box initiative that yanked back the right of gays and
lesbians to marry in California on November 4, 2008.
The boycott is also supported by
leaders of Unite
Here!, the recently merged union that represents textile, hotel
and restaurant employees, a strong supporter of gay marriage.
Equality California, the state's
largest gay rights advocate, and gay rights group the Courage
Campaign joined the two groups outside the Manchester Grand Hyatt to
stage their largest demonstration yet against the hotel on January 9.
In a statement released after the
event, the hotel alleged the groups were being disingenuous about
their true motivations.
“There are a number of outside
organizations that are intentionally targeting Manchester Grand Hyatt
under the guise of the equality movement with a hidden union agenda.
This is both misleading to the public and the activists that respect
and follow the organizations and their leadership.”
Saying that the best defense is a good
offense, Karger denied the hotel's charges as “counterproductive”
in an exclusive interview with On Top Magazine.
“They're trying to demonize me,
they're tying to demonize Unite Here! We're the people who brought
this boycott forward,” Karger said. “So, of course they're
unhappy and they're gonna attack us.”
Other activists we spoke to said the
boycott had dragged on too long. They said that Manchester's recent
public apology coupled with a promise to give an equal amount of
money to LGBT groups should have ended the boycott.
One activist, who asked not to be
named, said the boycott was “doing the gay community a disservice.”
But Karger disagreed.
“First off, we never heard from him
directly,” he said, referring to Manchester's
online apology where he says he's “not anti-gay” and has
supported domestic partnerships and civil unions for gay couples for
“quite some time.”
“I don't care if he apologizes for
something and it's done on a website a year and a half later,”
Karger said. “It doesn't quite measure up to what we would like to
do. Which is for both sides to sit down and negotiate an end to the
“The $125,000 is $25,000 in cash and
$100,000 in hotel credits to LGBT organizations that support civil
unions, not marriage. Well, that's ludicrous. First off, I don't
know if there are any LGBT groups that support civil unions and not
Karger said he was not aware of any gay
rights groups who had accepted Manchester's financial offer, but
several large gay rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign
and Equality California, have passed on it.
“We are sending a message to Mr.
Manchester,” Kager said. “But through all our activities there's
a much bigger audience and we're seeing the effectiveness of that.”
By most accounts the boycott has been
successful. A conservative estimate, Karger said, would be $18
million in lost revenues for the Manchester Grand Hyatt alone.