SAN FRANCISCO: Californians Against Hate is calling attention to companies whose employees have donated $5,000 or more in support of a November ballot initiative that would ban gay marriage in the state.
The group opposes Proposition 8, which would enact a constitutional amendment in California to overturn the state Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage. The issue is hotly contested in the state. According to a Field Poll taken in July, 51% of voters are against the proposition.
Fred Karger, campaign manager for CAH, said the organization plans to launch its “Dishonor Roll” campaign this week. The effort will publish the names of donors that contributed $5,000 or more in support of the proposition on its Web site with links to their affiliated employers.The information is already public record, published on the Secretary of State Web site.
“We didn't uncover anything,” Karger, a former executive at The Dolphin Group, said. “This is public information and we're just bringing it more attention.”
The initiative has put some companies on the defensive because of their unintentional affiliation with the donors. Among the companies targeted are a Hyatt hotel and the Grand Del Mar hotel located in San Diego. Doug Manchester, who has donated more than $100,000 to support Proposition 8, owns the properties. Additional targets include Intel because one of its "financial specialists" donated $40,000, and Bolthouse Farms because its former owner donated more than $100,000.
Karger also said the group organized a boycott against the hotels in San Diego and will consider actions against Bolthouse Farms.
Farley Kern, director of brand PR for Hyatt North America, said the company had received “a lot” of media queries, but the company is emphasizing its track record of offering domestic partnership benefits and the accolades it has earned from the gay and lesbian media. This year, the Human Rights Campaign named the Global Hyatt Corporation as one of the best places to work for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees.
“So really our PR response to this particular campaign has been to make sure that people understand our long-standing track record,” she said. “Our track record really speaks for itself and Doug Manchester doesn't speak for Hyatt.”
Bolthouse and Intel are emphasizing that people, not the companies made the donations.
Julie Soley, consumer relations at Bolthouse Farms, said in an e-mail, “Mr. Bolthouse's personal actions are not related to Bolthouse Farms... in any way. Bolthouse Farms had no knowledge of Mr. Bolthouse's donation until it was made public on June 3. [His] ownership and involvement with Bolthouse Farms ceased in December of 2005, when he sold the company.”
Intel's Chuck Mulloy, a senior PR manager of legal and crisis issues at Intel, sounded a similar note.
“The company does not have an opinion one way or the other and can't speak on behalf of [the employee who donated the money],” he said.