BILL CLINTON OUTRAGES LABOR, GAY LEADERS WITH SPEECH AT BOYCOTTED HYATT HOTEL

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Online petition gathers more than 25,000 signatures in one day

SAN DIEGO — Former President Bill Clinton’s refusal to honor a boycott of the Manchester Hyatt hotel supported by gay leaders and labor unions has fueled outrage in both communities.

A petition calling on Clinton to move his speech was launched Friday morning by the Courage Campaign and had gathered 26,537 signatures within 24 hours.

“The response to our petition has been overwhelming,” said Courage Campaign Chair Rick Jacobs.

“All over the country, marriage equality activists, union members and progressives clearly see the hypocrisy in President Clinton’s appearance at the Manchester Hyatt. President Clinton’s spokespeople said themselves that he would not have spoken at the Manchester Hyatt if he was invited by its owner, yet are going ahead with the speech. I think that’s wrong, and evidently so do more than 25,000 other Americans. Does he really need the money that badly?”

The boycott of the Manchester Hyatt in San Diego was launched in July 2008 in response to hotel owner Doug Manchester’s $125,000 contribution in early seed money to the Proposition 8 campaign and onerous working conditions for housekeepers at the hotel.

Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages in California, was passed by California voters last November. The Manchester Hyatt Boycott is endorsed by the San Diego Labor Council, California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, Courage Campaign, Equality California, Equality Illinois and San Diego Pride.

After receiving no response to early entreaties to move his speech, supporters of the boycott released an open letter to President Clinton and ran ads on the New York Daily News online.

IT’S ABOUT REAL PEOPLE

Boycott organizers informed the sponsor of Clinton’s speech, the International Franchise Association, a trade group with an affiliated political action committee that is a major donor to Republican candidates, of the boycott in August and again in December.

Boycott organizers say that while the IFA was completely unresponsive, they had hoped the former President would honor their call to support marriage equality and economic justice for workers.

On Thursday, President Clinton’s spokespeople told the Associated Press that Clinton would not be honoring the boycott and would go forward with the paid speech.

“President Clinton’s refusal to honor the boycott of the Manchester Hyatt undermines the LGBT community’s struggle for justice,” said Cleve Jones, one of the signers of the open letter and the founder of the NAMES Project/AIDS Memorial Quilt.

“Gay people are tired of compromises – we want full equality now.”

Cleve Jones authored an op-ed on the Huffington Post about Clinton’s speech.

ONLY CAMPAIGNING DOOR-TO-DOOR WILL WIN


JOIN THE COURAGE CAMPAIGN

THIS IS OUR LIVES WE ARE FIGHTING FOR

Among the groups that have honored the boycott by moving events out of the Manchester Hyatt are the American Association of Law Schools, the San Diego County Pension Fund, the San Diego Association of Realtors, California Nurses Association and the International Foundation of Employee Benefits.

In December, the San Diego Business Journal reported that hotel officials estimated the boycott has cost the Manchester Hyatt $2.4 million. Boycott organizers contend that estimate is low.

“Instead of honoring the boycott, the President’s office sent me a letter cataloguing all the great things he has done for the gay community and labor movement,” said Brigette Browning, President of UNITE HERE Local 30, the hotel workers’ union in San Diego.

“I think it speaks volumes that President Clinton will be inside the hotel speaking to a business group with a large federal PAC rather than out on the sidewalk with grassroots activists and immigrant workers. They shouldn’t have wasted the paper they printed that letter on. We are incredibly disappointed in our former President.”

A major protest rally was held at the Manchester Hyatt. Speakers will include Cleve Jones, Rick Jacobs, San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria, San Diego Pride Executive Director Ron deHarte, San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality founder Sara Beth Brooks and Pride at Work co-Chair Carlos Marquez. Attendance is expected to be high.

“President Clinton lit a fire under the Manchester Hyatt Boycott,” said Lorena Gonzalez, Secretary-Treasurer/CEO of the San Diego Labor Council.

“If President Clinton wants to sully his legacy with this appearance that is his prerogative. Regardless, this boycott has grown and our movement is now stronger.”

See Related: MARRIAGE EQUALITY

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