Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Businesses Get Caught In Gay-Marriage Battle

Independent Street : Small Businesses Get Caught In Gay-Marriage Battle

The cultural war on gay marriage rages on, and business owners — as well as their employees — are being caught up in it.

The approval of Proposition 8, in which California voters voted to overturn same-sex marriage rights, was a major victory for religious conservatives but a setback for the gay rights movement.

Some California business owners, mainly in the wedding industry, who expected to rake in business from Proposition 8’s defeat can only watch helplessly as ordered wedding cakes go unsold and tuxedos remain unrented.

Those businesses weren’t the only ones affected, though. Some small businesses, those who donated money in support of banning gay marriage in California, are being threatened with boycotts.

For example, El Coyote, a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, received calls threatening a boycott after it was reported that someone there allegedly contributed $100 to “Yes on 8.” reported it was actually the restaurant owner, who claimed she’d given the money through her Mormon church. Says Sonja Eddings Brown of, “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. People who contributed have been receiving calls from people dropping their business with them.”

Backers of gay marriage have also put up a Web site calling for the blacklisting of individuals and organizations that donated money to Proposition 8, saying “Please do not patronize them. 8=HATE.” The list includes the name, title, the company’s name, the location and how much money was donated.

At, a popular consumer review Web site, same-sex marriage supporters have been busy posting comments and identifying businesses that were pro-Prop 8. The San Francisco-based company says it’s removing those postings since they aren’t reviews of first-hand customer experiences in those establishments. Wedding dress designer Amy Kuschel says that her business has been a target on the Web site, even though she’s an opponent of Prop 8. She says one of her employees — not her — had donated $2,500 to the Prop 8 campaign. “If I feel strongly about something and I want to speak out, I should be able to speak out,” Ms. Kuschel says. “But you know without all the information, without all the accurate information, it can be very dangerous and very unfair.”

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