A Conventional Problem

     Apparently planning ahead is a bad idea.
     Five years ago, the State Bar of California booked a hotel for this year’s convention in San Diego. Four years later, one of the owners of the hotel contributed $125,000 to support the ballot measure banning gay marriage in California.
     Oops.
     As many of you know, all heck has broken out over this. A bunch of lawyers and lawyer groups want to boycott the hotel even though the company that manages the place, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, has said it likes gay people just fine.
     There’s been so much angst generated by the prospect of setting back gay rights by setting foot in the wrong luxury hotel that the Bar was compelled to issue a statement explaining why it couldn’t back out of the deal.
     This is the part of this tale that I like the best – the hotel contract has a liquidated damages clause that says the Bar has to pay $425,000 if it backs out on the deal and this is a contract drafted for an association of lawyers.
     Tee-hee.
     I’m thinking that maybe whoever OK’d that deal five years ago later took a job drafting employment agreements for AIG.
     The Bar now says that paying that penalty would be an illegal political use of bar dues. For some reason, going to the hotel and spending money on rooms while ignoring the boycott demands is not political.
     Semantics are so much fun.
     Before I go any further with this, let me say that I voted against Prop. 8 (the anti gay marriage thing), so please don’t boycott me. In fact, spend as much money on me as you like.
     But I do have problems with the boycott concept.
     First off, the boycotting seems to be headed up by an ironically-named organization called Californians Against Hate, a group that, well, seems pretty much obsessed with hating people. If they’d named themselves Californians For Hate, I might be more sympathetic. I respond better to truth in advertising.
     If you look at the CAH website, you’ll see that much of it is devoted to outing people who apparently had the odd notion that they had a right to an opinion and contributed to the Prop. 8 campaign.
     Does this remind anyone else of Married With Children?
     OK, I’m old and maybe my memory is playing tricks on me (as opposed to everyone else), but I seem to recall there were religious groups calling for a boycott of that TV show and its advertisers when it started out.
     Naturally, the show thereafter was a big, long-running hit.
     So boycotts can backfire and I have a feeling that this Prop. 8 hate/hysteria isn’t changing too many hearts and minds.
     Besides, there’s an alternative that is so much better that I can’t believe anyone is even thinking of a boycott.
     Come on, gay people and gay people’s friends, think about this. Is this misguided hotel owner really going to care if you don’t appear on his property? He’ll probably barely notice.
     What will he notice?
     The anti-boycott.
     Show up in droves.
     Arrive holding hands.
     Conduct (and widely advertise) seminars on tolerance and safe sex on the premises.
     Hold some elaborate weddings in the ballroom. (Just because it’s not a legal “marriage” doesn’t mean you can’t have the ceremony.)
     Spend money on all these things.
     You’ll make an impression.

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