Thursday, February 12, 2009
Conference of Delegates Survey Results Show Opposition to Meeting Site
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations yesterday reported that the preliminary responses to a survey it sent to its delegations evinced strong objections among constituents to holding its meeting this year at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.
The organization’s executive director, Laura Goldin, said that nearly 600 surveys asking about the impact a boycott against the hotel based on its proprietor’s support of the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage would have on attendance and participation in the annual meeting were sent out Tuesday, and 176 were returned in the next 48 hours.
“We’ve gotten about a 30% return,” she said, “which, to my understanding of surveys, is a very good response.”
More than 90 percent of those responding said they would attend the conference, held in conjunction with the State Bar’s Annual Meeting, if it were held at a different location, but 26 percent said they would not attend if it remained at the Manchester Hyatt, Goldin reported.
Of the individuals who said they were planning to stay at a hotel in San Diego during the conference, Goldin said 65 percent indicated they would not stay at the Manchester Hyatt.
“What I’m gleaning from that is the people who are responding feel very strongly about not doing anything to support the Manchester Hyatt, but they are very supportive of the conference and they want to be able to attend the conference,” Goldin commented.
The hotel is the target of a boycott led by Californians Against Hate, a non-profit organization devoted to drawing attention to the major donors to the Yes on 8 campaign, and UNITE HERE, San Diego’s hotel workers’ union.
Although only one group, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom—an organization representing gay lawyers in the San Francisco Bay Area—has threatened to boycott the September events, others, including the Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, the Bar Association of San Francisco, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s delegation to the conference have also voiced objections to the venue.
The Manchester Hyatt is operated under lease by the Global Hyatt Corporation, and owned by the Manchester Financial Group, whose chairman, Doug Manchester, gave $125,000 in support of Proposition 8.
Goldin noted there was a minority of respondents who “feel very strongly that this shouldn’t be an issue.”
The State Bar contracted with Hyatt to reserve the space for its 2009 and 2011 annual meetings before the divisive Proposition 8 campaign began, and has taken the position that it could not breach its contractual commitments because the cost of doing so, if borne by the members, could violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits public entities from using mandatory dues money for political actions.
A spokesperson from the State Bar said that it was looking into possibly sending a survey to members as well, but no decision had yet been made.
The State Bar and Conference of Delegates meetings are scheduled to take place Sept. 10-13.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company