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AALS Responds to Boycott:

In response to calls for a boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego because its owner gave substantial contributions to California's anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative, the Executive Committee of the AALS has released the following statement.

The AALS 2009 Annual Meeting will take place January 6-10, 2009, in San Diego, California. Several years ago the Association booked rooms at the San Diego Marriott and the Manchester Grand Hyatt. In the last few weeks there have been suggestions that the Association should boycott the Hyatt because its owner has contributed money to a ballot initiative designed to overturn the California Supreme Court's May decision in favor of same-sex marriage. In addressing this issue, the Executive Committee has sought to ensure that the Annual Meeting serves the needs of all participants to the maximum extent possible given our contractual obligations to the hotels.

Our contracts with the hotels provide that each hotel reserve a block of guest rooms, and leave to the AALS the choice of where to locate the AALS Registration, Exhibit Hall, Section Programs, Presidential Programs, and House of Representatives meetings. We will honor our contracts with both hotels, and we have exercised our option to hold all AALS events at the Marriott to ensure the maximum participation by our members.

Law schools and other organizations hosting meetings and receptions will be contacted soon by an AALS meetings manager regarding the location of their events. Faculty and staff at law schools will soon receive housing information and you will be able to choose your individual hotel room on a first-come, first-served basis in accordance with the usual housing procedures.

Professor Bainbridge thinks the AALS "caved" to the boycott organizers, while others are not so sure. Dave Hoffman offers a translation: "we agree with you that merely contributing to the SSM amendment is beyond the pale, but we (sadly) can't breach our contracts." To which Nato Oman offers this amendment: "the cost of our moral turpitude in staying at a Hilton is less than the damages that we might be required to pay in the event of breach." Paul Caron rounds up more responses here.

Personally, I am a bit confused by the whole thing. The AALS statement seems to indicate that a boycott would be justified if it did not requiring breaching its contracts. This would explain the compromise position — keeping a contract with the offending hotel while attempting to accommodate boycott supporters by holding the primary events elsewhere. But here is where the confusion sets in. The purported reason for the boycott is Grand Hyatt owner Doug Manchester's support of the anti-gay-marriage campaign. And yet the other hotel the AALS will be using — the San Diego Marriott — appears to be owned by Doug Manchester as well.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: It seems that Manchester was the developer of the San Diego Marriott, but he sold his interest in 2008, so he is no longer the owner. Details here and here.

Happyshooter:
Liberals don't make sense, that is what makes them liberals.
8.19.2008 10:19am
Anon Y. Mous:

And yet the other hotel the AALS will be using -- the San Diego Marriott -- appears to be owned by Doug Manchester as well.

Well, let this be a lesson to him then.
8.19.2008 11:00am
Tainted Observer:
The fact that the guy owns both hotels is pretty funny.
8.19.2008 11:04am
Ken Arromdee:
According to the original post here, it may actually be a union dispute and the claim that it has to do with gay marriage may be a lie.

If so, and if the second hotel has a union, then of course this makes perfect sense.
8.19.2008 11:11am
Hans Bader (mail):
The whole thing is baffling, making a mountain out of a molehill. Why does the AALS care about Manchester's beliefs? And why does Manchester care about such a minor issue to begin with?

When it comes to problems with family law, gay-marriage is simply a side issue. It affects very few people, and legalizing it is not a big deal.

I don't understand why the hotel owner would waste his money contributing to the referendum to ban same-sex marriage, which deserves to be defeated, or why the AALS would care that he donated money to ban same-sex marriage, given all the more pressing issues that exist in this country, and in family law, than gay marriage.

The AALS's obsession with this tangential issue demonstrates how absurdly permeated with political correctness the AALS is.

I used to work at a non-profit law firm, and while it quickly became apparent to me that family law in America is utterly disfunctional, gay issues had nothing to do with that.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people contacted me seeking help on family law related matters, such as (1) cripplingly excessive alimony and child support payments, including payments people could not possibly pay because they had lost their jobs due to no fault of their own; (2) terrible child custody decisions that harmed both children and their mothers and fathers (like a child being given to an abusive mother rather than a responsible father because of gender-bias against fathers, which is all-too-common, or a child being given to an abusive father rather than a caring mother because of connections between the father's attorney and the family-court judge); and (3) children being warehoused in day care almost all the time by neglectful custodial parents when the non-custodial parent was perfectly willing to take care of the children during the very time they were being warehoused in day care (a practice discouraged by statute in Utah but permitted in many states).

No one ever contacted me about gay issues, except for one or two complaints from straight parents about their gay ex-spouse receiving visitation or custody with the children -- a complaint with little legal basis, since the gay parent might conceivably have been the better parent, and since custody in this country has little to do with marital status, much less the tangential issue of gay marriage.

For some of what is REALLY wrong with family law -- as opposed to diversions like gay marriage -- see my blog posts about "The Economics of Divorce" and how divorce lawyers and their lawyer-legislator allies pervert family law for their own gain.
8.19.2008 12:22pm
nick99 (mail):
Not wanting to stay in a hotel owned by someone who seeks to ban gay marriage seems utterly sensible to me. Laws banning marriage by gays and lesbians are a violation of every conceivable notion of equal opportunity and plain ol' fair play. Any opening to punish someone supporting them ought to be seized upon vigorously.
8.19.2008 1:06pm
fishbane (mail):
This makes perfect sense to me. Follow the dots - organizing a conference is hard, requiring a lot of prep work that participants never see (unless it goes wrong...). Some people applied pressure for a particular reason, and the organizers gave along the easiest fault line. That it doesn't make sense doesn't matter much - they gave what they could without disrupting everything else. That's what happens. Those on one side that would like ideological purity got a notch in the belt but will still be disappointed, and the conference still happens. Those who think it is silly can laugh, and still go. Everyone wins.
8.19.2008 1:12pm
Daniel M. Roche (mail):

Laws banning marriage by gays and lesbians are a violation of every conceivable notion of equal opportunity and plain ol' fair play.


Thanks for that brilliant insight, but apparently most people in this country disagree . . .
8.19.2008 1:17pm
The General:
EVERYTHING IS POLITICAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a bunch of babies.
8.19.2008 2:15pm
alexanorak (mail):
To Hans Bader:

In 1990 I was on the faculty office level of Boalt Hall, visiting a friend. This being the era before ubiquitous voice mail, on my way out I passed what they called the "Message Center," where a gay man named Patrick fielded phone calls for the professors and wrote message slips. Patrick maintained a bulletin board outside his kiosk on which he posted his various political enthusiasms. For example, he once posted one of Breyer's criminal opinions, when Breyer was under nomination for the Court, to show how "heartless" he was. Anyway, Patrick had attached to the board a large envelope, on which was printed "Take One." So I did. Inside were 11"x14" sheets of heavy pink construction paper titled "The Gay Agenda," and listing ten items in that grad-school sparkly stuff. I only remember #10. It read: "To turn Western Civilization inside out!" So before you conclude that gay marriage is a "tangential issue," try to keep the larger picture in mind.
8.19.2008 5:03pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Law professors and their professional association are far more academic than real world. The behavior here is soooo undergraduate. Hat tip to George Leef at NRO's Phi Beta Cons. Read A Guide to Campus Shakedowns by Robert Weissberg:
"Observers of today's campuses have undoubtedly encountered a phenomenon that I will call "incidentism." Its principle characteristics are as follows:

First, a seemingly minor often obscure, innocuous event, e.g., a student newspaper cartoon, an off-hand remark by the school president, an invitation to a "controversial" outside speaker, among countless other possibilities, triggers boisterous outrage among groups claiming to be offended to the point of incapacitation. Rallies, marches, non-negotiable demands and all the rest predictably follow. Offended parties are almost always African American students, sometimes feminists, gays, even Muslims, but never conservatives. One might guess that sensitivity to "offense," like susceptibility to Tay-Sachs disease, follows ethnic/racial lines. Interestingly, that the triggering incident was a likely hoax, a silly misunderstood joke or even a misconstrued word like "niggardly" is irrelevant. Stating truth is, needless to say, also no protection. Anything suffices for those addicted to being offended.

Second, no matter how ridiculous or even false, the university's administration will treat matters "seriously." Typical are promises of yet more free benefits to help the injured party "heal the wounds" (e.g., mandatory campus-wide sensitivity training, additional faculty hires from "under-represented" groups, more role models and mentors, special "theme" centers where the vulnerable can feel safe, and on and on). At a minimum, the official Flak Catcher (to recall Tom Wolfe's Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers) will issue an official apology, promise an investigation, even suspend classes so student can attend workshops, and assure aggrieved victims that "this will never happen again ..."
8.19.2008 5:28pm
Hans Bader (mail):
It's worth noting that under California law prior to the state supreme court's gay-marriage decision, there was almost no difference between a gay civil-union and a straight marriage, in practical terms, since essentially the same rights and duties applied to both gay civil-unions and heterosexual marriages under state law.

That such small stakes are involved makes the AALS's obsession with the issue baffling. Doesn't it have more important things to worry about? Why erect such a litmus test that will divert attention from more serious issues, and antagonize its few socially conservative members?

It also makes me wonder why on Earth opponents of gay marriage are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a referendum to try to overturn the gay-marriage decision, which will have little impact in the real world.

For the same amount of money, a far more valuable pro-family referendum could be put on the ballot, such as a ballot proposition creating a rebuttable presumption in favor of joint custody (joint custody laws reduce divorce rates and improve child welfare), or a ballot proposition ending the unconscionable practice of spiteful divorced custodial parents warehousing their kids in daycare, rather than letting their ex-spouse take care of, and have contact with, the kids.
8.19.2008 7:34pm
Richard Riley (mail):
I honestly don't see why the VC bloggers, and Instapundit, and Bainbridge, and libertarianish types in general insist that this statement by AALS amounts to "caving" to the boycott.

The AALS could not have chosen any more anodyne language to describe the SSM decision or its opponents or proponents. The statement does not say one word in support of the boycott, but simply acknowledges that staying out of the Manchester Grand Hyatt will maximize participation in AALS events. There is no criticism of the hotel itself or its owner. The statement bends over backwards to note that AALS is within its contractual rights to do what it is doing and will lose no money, whereas one of the primary complaints of VC bloggers et al. was that the AALS would lose a ton of money if it "caved" to the boycott.

So again, where's the "cave?" Sure, to some people anything short of telling the boycott organizers with a snarky flourish to go pound sand would be "caving." But in reality, if the AALS statement is what we're going by, I'd say the boycotters lost.
8.19.2008 8:10pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I honestly don't see why the VC bloggers, and Instapundit, and Bainbridge, and libertarianish types in general insist that this statement by AALS amounts to "caving" to the boycott.
Where did "VC bloggers" (*) "insist" any such thing?



(*) I assume "VC" refers to Volokh Conspiracy rather than Viet Cong.
8.19.2008 10:16pm
KWC (mail):
Would you all support the AALS convention at a hotel of man who donated millions to the KKK? Wait, of course you would.

The truth is that conservative today who oppose SSM, are the same bunch who back in the day would be pro-slavery, anti-Asian, etc. The only difference is that PROGRESS forces you all to admit your ways are backwards. Once that happens, you choose new battles to cling to and pretend that you aren't racist/bigoted/etc. Well, you are. Sorry. You are.

Put another way, back during segregation, there were tons of people in favor of it. Where are like-minded people today? I don't think it's hard to figure out. The anti-Black racists of yore are the anti-gay bigots of today...give or take a few, of course. Doesn't it make you ashamed to see how your positions, when looked back on, are just so incredibly awful???
8.19.2008 10:20pm
Daniel M. Roche (mail):

Put another way, back during segregation, there were tons of people in favor of it. Where are like-minded people today? I don't think it's hard to figure out. The anti-Black racists of yore are the anti-gay bigots of today...give or take a few, of course. Doesn't it make you ashamed to see how your positions, when looked back on, are just so incredibly awful???


I'd love to point out that your argument is poorly thought out. How can you claim that conservatives are merely choosing a new battle after losing the last one, when there is not a single person alive today who was alive when we had slavery. How can we be the "same bunch" that back in the day was pro-slavery and anti-asian? It is a separate issue in a different time.

Your claims are belied by history. For example, the State of Utah contains an overwhelming majority of citizens who disapprove of gay marriage. Yet it was one of the first states to grant women the right to vote and was never favorable to slavery. There are many such examples.

You cannot draw a line through the country and say one side is anti-gay and the other pro-gay, as you could with the slavery issue. That was a cultural issue as much as a moral one, while the arguments here are much more based in perceived morality than anything else. No one in Nebraska, for example, is worried that they will no longer be able to maintain their livelihood if gays can wed. The "red states" do not maintain their economy by preventing gays from marrying. LOL.

But of course, you are simply one of the many liberals who try to vilify any opposing viewpoint as bigoted and racist. We've all heard that tune before.
8.21.2008 1:23pm
KWC (mail):
Daniel M. Roche:

Of course you've heard that tune before. When the behavior doesn't change, why should the tune?

No one is saying that you are literally the same people. I'm saying that your bigoted views aren't new. We've seen them before. And, just as before, you try to pass them off as "moral" or "cultural" (you are wrong about the distinction -- religion/morality was used to justify slavery just as it is to justify anti-gay sentiment).

The point remains. Every point in history encounters this divide. Those who are conservative -- in the most literal sense -- wish to see the status quo preserved, whether that means stoppings gays from marrying today or blacks and whites from marrying before that or women from voting or blacks from being considered human. Progressive people demand change. They see that these things are wrong. That the norms that once upheld them are deeply flawed and thus they push for change. And there is friction of course.

In 100 years, there will be some other "other" that conservative people are trying to stop from attaining rights. And in 100 years people will look back and say "remember when people actually argued that gay people shouldn't have equal rights?" And then the opponents of the "other" will say, that's totally different, stop trying to villify us, we've heard that tune before. Indeed.
8.21.2008 8:57pm
MLF (mail):
Consider this: While people who consider themselves conservative claim to love America, they clearly do not like Americans. The people that inhabit this nation are not the straight, white, educated, pleasant looking folk of the primary school readers conservatives hold as the ideal. This is not "My Three Sons." This is the real world, and conservatives can't handle it. To think that it would be an issue that two people would want to be married anywhere in this country is silly. Stopping gay marriage will not stop homosexuality. Gay marriage no more damages the sanctity of marriage than does conservative members of the House of Representatives who cheat on their spouses and served them with divorce papers as they lay dying of cancer in the hospital. The anti-Americanism of the conservative movement is appalling. They should be ashamed.
8.22.2008 10:36am
Daniel M. Roche (mail):
KWC:

You ignored the fact that "conservatives" have not been wrong with regard to every issue.

Communism was "progressive" but no one is looking back and arguing that we were wrong on that one. For every example of issues on which we condemn past conservatives, you can name one for which they were correct. Your argument here is merely based on YOUR opinion that you are on the correct side of this debate.

Do you really think that in 50 or 100 years people will look back and say, "Wow, can you believe those people were opposed to the legalization of heroin and cocaine?

Or "can you believe those conservatives didn't want to make prostitution legal?

Or "what were those bigoted conservatives thinking

MLF: You stated "Gay marriage no more damages the sanctity of marriage than does conservative members of the House of Representatives who cheat on their spouses and served them with divorce papers as they lay dying of cancer in the hospital."

Well in the old familiar terms, No sh**, sherlock! And how many conservatives support cheating on spouses? Or high divorce rates? Most conservatives I know are opposed to those things as well. So where is the inconsistency? Seriously people, it seems like you are trying to argue against a point of view that you are not even trying to understand. That is why your arguments come across as shallow.

You should check out this article about why conservatives and liberals have such issues discussing topics dealing with "morality."

8.22.2008 2:17pm
Daniel M. Roche (mail):
here it is, sry.
8.22.2008 2:21pm