Remember Doug Manchester? He's the elderly conservative Catholic who owns the Manchester Hyatt Hotel in downtown San Diego. Manchester donated $125,000 to the Proposition 8 campaign in California because, as he said at the time, he's a conservative Catholic who believes that traditional marriages like his—one man and one woman, monogamous and married for life—had to be defended from gay and lesbian couples. It's doubtful that Prop 8 would've made it onto the ballot without Manchester's money: his cash, all of it collected from tourists visiting San Diego, was used by the Prop 8 campaign to pay signature gatherers and qualify the measure for the ballot. Activists called for a boycott of Manchester's hotel after Prop 8 passed and the boycott—which is still in effect—has cost the hotel millions.
The American Psychological Association took a pretty firm stance on the rights of same-sex couples back in 2004: "[The APA] shall take a leadership role in opposing all discrimination in legal benefits, rights, and privileges against same-sex couples." So, um, why is the American Psychological Association having its 2010 annual meeting at Doug Manchester's hotel in San Diego? Take it away, Alice Dreger:
A letter from APA President Carol Goodheart indicates that it would cost the APA about a million dollars to reneg on its contract, made years earlier, with the Manchester Hyatt. Sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but that amount comes to only about 1.03% of the APA’s annual budget. This was pointed out to me by James Cantor, a psychologist at the University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, who is among those now calling for a reactive boycott of the APA’s meeting. Cantor writes, “That APA would trade its support of civil rights for a (max) 1.03% budgetary interest is unacceptable to me as an APA member.” Moreover, “The APA President wrote recently that $3.5 million in unanticipated funds had been acquired.” Yet the APA still won’t consider pulling out of the Manchester Hyatt? Concludes Cantor, “This isn't financial stewardship; this is civil rights having lost its place as an APA priority.”
As a consequence, those calling for a boycott of the APA’s meeting are hoping to convince at least 3,700 APA members who would otherwise attend the conference to skip it. (Usually about 14,000 attend.) The cost to the APA would come to about the million dollars they are claiming is at stake.
The APA has refused to make copies of its contract with the Manchester Hyatt available to its members—some members want to see if there's a standard “escape” clause in the contract that would allow the APA to back out—so no one really knows for sure if the APA is actually on the hook at all. And even if they are on the hook for that money...
That the APA would choose to put its members’ money in the pockets of Doug Manchester seems especially ironic given that psychological studies suggest sexual minorities’ mental health is negatively affected by discrimination.... It’s really hard to imagine the APA knowingly funneling its members’ dollars into the coffers of someone who supported legislation to roll back the civil rights of, say, African-Americans or Jews.
As a member of the American Historical Association (AHA), I’d be remiss if I did not mention that the AHA went through with its contract to use the Manchester Hyatt, but, as Cantor notes, the AHA “allocated $100,000, or $6.67/member, for educational campaigns regarding same-sex marriage. Had the 150,000-member APA also allocated $6.67 per member, it would have covered the costs of a worst-case Hyatt lawsuit.” Apparently, the APA has decided that civil rights for LBGT people comes at a cost, and that the cost is just too high at $6.67 per member. Talk is cheaper.
Getting back to Doug Manchester: how's his traditional marriage going? Uh... not so hot:
Manchester ended 43 years, eight months and nine days of marriage to Elizabeth Manchester by moving out of their La Jolla abode. The couple spent the next several months trying to reach a quiet settlement on how best to distribute millions of dollars in cash and other assets. In July, those talks totally broke down, and Doug started playing financial hardball with Elizabeth, allegedly draining the couple’s shared accounts and stealing her mail.