Bill clinton | California | Gay Marriage | News | Proposition 8 | San Diego

Clinton Regrets IFA Venue in Letter, Supports Reversal of Prop 8

Clinton_hyattTowleroad has obtained a letter sent to Brigette Browning, President of Local Union 30 UNITE HERE, regarding Clinton's speech over the weekend at the San Diego Manchester Grand Hyatt which was picketed by hundreds of activists angry that the former President was disrespecting a boycott over Hyatt owner Doug Manchester's contributions to Proposition 8.

Says Clinton's chief-of-staff Laura Graham in the letter, dated Friday:

"[Clinton] was in no way involved in choosing the venue nor was he aware of the controversy related to it until we received your letter last week. As you know, President Clinton shares many of your concerns and wishes this event could have taken place elsewherre. Upon receiving you letter, we made several attempts to change the venue. Unfortunately, the hosting organization responded that they were unable to do so, and President Clinton believes he should honor his contractual obligation. President Clinton has a long-standing record of support for the LGBT community. He strongly opposed Proposition 8, speaking out against it, and recording calls to California voters urging them to defeat it. He still opposes it and hopes it can be reversed."

Full text of letter, AFTER THE JUMP...

Bill Clinton Crosses Proposition 8 Picket Line in San Diego [tr]

Bill Clinton letter regarding Prop 8 Boycott of Manchester Grand Hyatt

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  1. Easy for him to "regret" it now that he has that check in his hands ... Actions speak louder than words.

    Posted by: Marty | Feb 16, 2009 9:21:28 AM

  2. Rule One of being Clinton:
    Pay yourself FIRST!
    DADT, DOMA now this.
    Great LGBT support there Billo.
    F*ck YOU

    Posted by: ggreen | Feb 16, 2009 9:30:59 AM

  3. Actions speak louder than words. And Clintons actions of signing DOMA and attending functions like this speak louder than all the rhetoric he gives. Clinton is an ally of convenience. This weekend it wasn't convenient for him.

    Posted by: kujhawker | Feb 16, 2009 9:38:57 AM

  4. At first I was flipping out that their chief of staff didn't even think the issue was important enough to warrant a spell check in Microsoft word. Then I saw that the excerpt was transcribed. I have trouble writing 100 words without making an error, so I am grateful for all the ones Andy churns out for us ever day. Still...elsewhere -- only 1 r. Like I said, no big deal and I could never do it, just being a friendly editor.

    Posted by: K | Feb 16, 2009 9:59:15 AM

  5. Well, I figured he would cross the picket line. But, he didn't have to write that letter. I wouldn't diminish its value. A former president has gone on record strongly opposing Prop 8 and hoping for it's reversal. Regarding DOMA, that was a political reality at the time - however I believe he signed it knowing it was unconstitutional. Look at Prop 8 - I still can't believe it passed. Bottom line the religious wingnuts obviously do a better job getting people to the polls. We starting to do better, and this letter is another piece of evidence in that direction. We're going to win, it's just a matter of time.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 16, 2009 10:01:40 AM

  6. Marty, you nailed it. Easy to be sorry after the fact.

    Posted by: MikeMick | Feb 16, 2009 10:15:34 AM

  7. Interesting that it is released after the fact. Just more political backpeddaling. I swear that politicians and entertainers all use the same PR firm. Either that or there is a book out about what to say once you get yourself into a jam. Again, the gay community will forgive. I believe that is all the LGBT community does.

    Equality has been talked about for centuries, and no matter what, it will be TALKED about for centuries to come, with little resolution. One step forward, two back!

    Posted by: CB | Feb 16, 2009 10:25:58 AM

  8. How hard is it to change this venue? Its not as if that is the only hotel in the sixth largest city in the country for crying out loud.

    But, then again, he is like most of the democrats, your friend for votes and then excuses.

    Posted by: Shane | Feb 16, 2009 10:34:53 AM

  9. How does one cross a picket line and not know what it's about? Don't you ...ask?

    Posted by: Patrick | Feb 16, 2009 10:34:54 AM

  10. Just last June, Clinton canceled his commencement address at UCLA, rather than cross a union picket line.

    "President Clinton is honored to be invited to speak at UCLA's commencement ceremonies, but as he has said, he cannot cross a picket line," Craig Minassian, a spokesman for Clinton, said in a statement.

    I guess UCLA's seniors didn't think of pooling their cash so they could have a six-figure check waiting on the podium. Or maybe a pudgy intern in heat. Or a donut.

    Posted by: 24play | Feb 16, 2009 10:36:15 AM

  11. Bill Clinton was a great president but he has never been a friend of the gay community. It was reported last year that he advised his wife to take a hard-line stance against same-sex marriage in order to win over the bigot vote.

    He's a politician: he's a friend to us up until the moment he can gain something by stabbing us in the back, and then in the knife goes. This is the latest in a long career of betrayals (though this one is smaller than, say, DOMA or DADT).

    Posted by: Tim in SF | Feb 16, 2009 11:48:12 AM

  12. Aside from the Prop. 8 issue...

    A leader (once "the" leader) of a supposedly "center-left" political party crossing a union picket line to give a speech that could've easily been given elsewhere. And the Democrats wonder why people often confuse them for Republican-lite?

    Posted by: John in CA | Feb 16, 2009 11:52:17 AM

  13. "Honoring his commitments" = totally phony. These people are not amateurs. You can bet that there's an opt out for force majeure sorts of things in his speaking contract, and I'll bet a labor disturbance is one of them. He could have bowed out if he really wanted.

    Posted by: freddie | Feb 16, 2009 12:30:14 PM

  14. 1. The UCLA commencement is not analogous.

    2. Hillary's position on marriage equality is no more "hard line" than Barack Obama's and I don't recall her ever defending it because "God is in the mix" as he did.

    3. The EXACT kind of venue dispute is happening now with the 217,000-member CA State Bar Association, which is holding their Sept. annual convention at this hotel, [as is the State Bar Conference of Delegates which subcontracted with CSBA] and reveals the ignorance in the "easy to move" nonsense.

    No less than Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate and the boycott of the hotel, after learning that the Association signed their contract at least five years ago/before Prop 8, and with the Hyatt Corporation not Mancheser itself, has said:

    “You can’t really get out of it without losing half the money or something,” "but he suggested that the State Bar and similarly situated organizations could still ask attendees not to patronize the hotel for food, drinks and amenities while there."

    Nevertheless, the CSBA has looked at other venues but found nothing comparable available at that time for their needs.


    Watch to see how many boycott it.

    4. Yes, I think Clinton should have not spoken, as does movement great David Mixner who's flamed him on his own site. But Mixner is also one who looks for the good in others and not just the bad, and said in a 2004 "MetroWeekly" interview:

    "Bill Clinton will go down in history as one of the greatest presidents for this community, ever. Ever, ever, ever, ever. For the scope and the breadth of the changes he made in the agencies and the State Department. It was against the law for us to openly serve in the State department before he came in. People seem to forget that. Against the law. We could not work in the State Department. He made historical changes across the board. But he was far from perfect—DOMA, Don't Ask, Don't Tell. ...

    [His overall legacy] is extraordinary. The executive order banning discrimination against our community in every agency except the military but including the civilian defense department. Allowing us to serve in the Peace Corps. Allowing us to serve in the Job Corps. Opening up appointments -- I think there were something like a hundred appointments [serving in his administration]. I mean, come on. In 1988, the [Democratic] Caucus wouldn't even accept our money. That's a sea change where I come from. Perfect? No." - David Mixner.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Feb 16, 2009 1:30:23 PM

  15. Were any of you Clinton bashers beyond puberty during his administration? I didn't think so- either have an informed opinion about the man, or shut the fuck up. You weren't there and you can't know what it was like 15 years ago. Clinton is and was solidly behind gay rights. Without him, there would STILL BE a witch hunt in the military. DADT eliminated the witch hunt.

    Posted by: dc8stretch | Feb 16, 2009 1:46:32 PM

  16. the lesson is that if there's a grain of plausible deniability, it can be exploited and distorted to political proportions. And at the end of such an effort, everyone is so confused that they don't even know what it's about anymore.

    Across the board? I think that the only lasting legacy here is tremendous inconsistency such that either horn (whether clinton was good for gays or not good for gays) can be defended equally.

    Posted by: TANK | Feb 16, 2009 1:50:36 PM

  17. DC,

    I'm 43 now. I was 26 in 1992, when Clinton first ran for president. So, I was there. I voted for him twice.

    And I still say he's a total douchebag who will always choose cash, cooze, or cookies over making a principled stand. He's never solidly behind anything besides his own self interest.

    Posted by: 24play | Feb 16, 2009 2:21:18 PM

  18. I am very disappointed in Mr. Clinton's choice to speak at this function.
    That does away with my faith in him as a leader!

    Posted by: Steve M | Feb 16, 2009 3:24:38 PM

  19. Do politicians like Clinton realize that with the internet and all, that we pretty much know how he and his administration used the gays? They take out money, but when they are in power there is ALWAYS an excuse on why "it's not the right time" for gays in the military, "it's not the right time" for a full equality in the workplace for gays, "it's not the right time" ... blah, blah, blah.

    I voted for him. Loved him many reasons. And DETESTED him for many reasons, too - mainly for always putting gays at the very end.

    Seems like Obama is doing that good.

    Why? Probably because "it's the right time" ... BULL SHIT!

    Clinton could have been a great president had he come in strong and simply gotten rid of gays in the military. Obama has that chance, but he too seems to be back pedaling.

    And now Clinton crosses the picket line, and now simply he still supports the cause. Yeah right. If he did, he would have excused himself from going to Hyatt hotel.

    Now THAT would have been a major support of ACTION.

    Posted by: FunMe | Feb 16, 2009 4:08:32 PM

  20. we won't always agree with politicians, friends or family, and although I didn't expect Bill to throw in the towel... it would have been supportive if he'd met with organizers, raised the issue to his audience (surely franchisers understand about publicity) or made another visible effort condemning Prop-8 hate peddlers.

    Posted by: grego | Feb 16, 2009 10:05:07 PM

  21. I don't know the circumstances for why Clinton signed DOMA (maybe just didn't think he had the right to refuse to sign something the majority wanted?) but DADT was instated as a TEMPORARY measure with the best of intentions.

    Before DADT, things were MUCH WORSE for gays in the military in the U.S. The rabid anti-Clinton ignorami need to just shut up about DADT.

    Posted by: Philip Wester | Feb 17, 2009 5:13:57 AM

  22. I saw through Clinton's "charm" years ago. The kind of thing that happened in San Diego is just Standard Operating Procedure for the Clintons.

    I have never understood why so many in the LGBTQ community continue to fawn over them. Talk is cheap and the Clintons take advantage of that fact...AND the fact that so many suckers value it so highly.

    Posted by: Joseph Hill | Feb 17, 2009 1:30:49 PM

  23. Let me join the chorus ...


    Bill is a douche !!

    Posted by: chapeau | Feb 17, 2009 8:19:44 PM

  24. If Bill Clinton is REALLY on our side, than he should donate his 6 figure fee from that speach to the repeal of Prop 8 or another Gay and Lesbian cause.

    Put your money where your mouth is, Clinton. We are watching you!

    Posted by: Chris in LA | Feb 18, 2009 11:45:16 AM

  25. Why doesn't he donate his speaking fee to the Human Rights Campaign or another group working for LGBT rights?

    That would really mean something.

    Posted by: Lynne | Feb 20, 2009 5:58:25 PM

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