Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Doug Manchester, the homophobic owner of the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel in San Diego, donated $125,000 to help get the measure on the ballot that would repeal the rights of same-sex couples across the country to marry in the state of California. That's fine, it's his money, and he can do what he wants with it. But law professors who value equality and non-discrimination and human rights and freedom don't have to give him a single penny in support of his homophobic agenda.
The Association of American Law Schools is scheduled to hold its huge annual conference this January at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Several groups have protested to the AALS, including the Legal Writing Institute and SALT (the Society of American Law Teachers), and several AALS sections, including the AALS Section on Legal Writing Reasoning and Research, the AALS Section on Teaching Methods, and of course the AALS Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues (SOGII).
The AALS staff was already on top of the situation before any of those letters of protest arrived in its mailbox. They've been looking to see what options it has -- another hotel in the city? another city entirely? We understand that the decision on what to do will be made by the AALS executive committee, and that hopefully an announcement of some kind will be made soon. Hopefully they will make the right decision to oppose discrimination and reject giving any money to Papa Doug Manchester.
This isn't a first amendment issue (AALS and the other groups are not government entities). And it isn't as if the groups are protesting a donation to a political candidate. It would be the same as supporting a constitutional amendment to repeal Loving v. Virginia (or the California Supreme Court decision that preceded it). The groups contacting the AALS are right to do so, and AALS would be within its rights by moving the meeting away from the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
The AALS Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues has planned a full-day program on sexual orientation issues across the curriculum (including legal writing).