West Hollywood, California (Thursday, November 13, 2008) – A part-owner of El Coyote Restaurant, a Mexican eatery with a large and, until now, loyal gay clientele, donated $100 to the Yes On 8 campaign at the Mormon Church’s behest.
After the revelation made its way through the No on 8 activist community early this week, a neighbor press conference was called for Wednesday, where Marjorie Christoffersen, a niece of the restaurant’s founder and part-owner of the café, defended her action and refused to recant.
The conference ended in uproarious calls for a formal boycott and a protest to take place later today.
Floor manager Bob Montoya stressed to the crowd of 60 or more that the restaurant’s views were not Ms. Christoffersen’s.
“El Coyote does not share the same views as Marjorie,” he said. “We are a welcoming place for everybody, families, gays, straights.”
Ms. Christoffersen said she simply did what her church told her, “El Coyote is as diverse as its clientele is. Our customers are part of our family and I responded to the call of the Mormon Church to donate.”
Another unidentified representative of El Coyote told the gathering that Ms. Christoffersen was trying to distance herself from the restaurant because she was aware that action might cause its demise.
“Marjorie wants to take personal responsibility for the blame and anger,” he said.
Ms. Christoffersen pitched in, “I can not and will not change my lifelong commitment to the Mormon Church.”
Asked by Sam Page, a reformed Mormon, if she would donate money to the No on 8 campaign, she broke into tears.
At which point a manager stepped in to say the restaurant was donating money to Lambda Legal and the LA Gay & Lesbian Center.
Pressed for a response, Ms. Christoffersen said she would not donate to the No on 8 campaign.
That response infuriated the crowd; another relative of hers yelled out over the hubbub, “The church just tells you when to donate, it doesn’t tell you how to vote. It very, very rarely tells you how to vote.”
Then she uttered the fatal words. “Marjorie is your friend,” she said.
That drew outrage, with one man in the crowd shouting, “Friends don’t take rights from their friends and blame it on their church.”
Asked again if she would take measures to right the wrong done her clientele and staff (many of whom say they are gay), she said, “I will not.”
The ensuing rage distressed Ms. Christoffersen enough that she needed to leave the building.
A small crowd then entered into a nearly three hour long discussion about whether to boycott.
Organizers have planned a protest in front of the restaurant for Thursday night.
Eric Parrot called WeHo News to report that the discussion that ensued was a constructive one. “There were five or six people who stayed behind to talk to the staff about whether or not to boycott.”
In other boycott news, No On 8 activists are gathering lists of Yes On 8 donors to publish online in hopes of punishing those businesses for their support of the effort to strip fellow Californians of a civil right.
The boycott has had an immediate effect, according to protectmarriage.com spokesperson Sonja Eddings Brown.
“We have received calls today from our members in Greater Los Angeles and other parts of the state indicating that today their businesses are being hurt because they contributed money,” she told the LA Times.
“People who contributed have been receiving calls from people dropping their business with them.”
Reports from the state of Utah say that ski trips are already being cancelled and that the Sundance Film Festival will likely suffer due to a boycott against Cinemark movie chain, which hosts the festival.
Ron Prentice, Chairman, ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8, issued a statment expressing the grave concern for supporters of the measure that stripped civil rights from a class of people.
“Since Proposition 8’s victory, a series of protests against churches, small businesses and individual supporters of traditional marriage have taken place in cities across the state. Tragically, some opponents of Prop. 8 who claim to cherish tolerance and civil rights are unabashedly trampling on the rights of others.
“Protests and boycotts have taken place against a Hispanic restaurant owner in Los Angeles, African American religious leaders in the Bay Area, and a musical theater director in Sacramento, among many others.”
Jim Key, communications director at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, responded with a “wow” when he heard the statement.
“It’s ironic [they] complain about their rights when they came into our state to trample on the rights of California gays and lesbians using religion as their tool,” he said.