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Boycott Utah?

Jim Burroway

November 10th, 2008

There’s a move afoot to launch a boycott against the state of Utah in response to the LDS Church’s heavy-handed role in passing California’s Proposition 8 (and please don’t forget their role in Arizona’s Prop 102!):

Gay rights activist John Aravosis, whose well-trafficked AmericaBlog.com is urging the boycott, is unapologetic about targeting Utah rather than California, where voters defined marriage in the state Constitution as a heterosexual act. Utah, Aravosis said, “is a hate state,” and on this issue, “at a fundamental level, the Utah Mormons crossed the line. . . . They just took marriage away from 20,000 couples and made their children bastards. You don’t do that and get away with it.”

Utahans didn’t vote on Prop 8 or Prop 102, not all Utahans are Mormons and many Mormons opposed these marriage amendments, including faithful Mormons in Utah. I can see boycotting Mormon-owned businesses which supported Prop 8 and Prop 102. There’s no shortage of targets there. I can also see the logic of boycotting Mormon-owned businesses which make their LDS connections an integral part of their identity — Marriott, for example.

There are businesses I refuse to patronize on principle, even though I’m sure they don’t miss my dollars much. While I question the effectiveness of boycotts as a tactic, I’m all for it in principle as long as the target is appropriate.  But boycotting an entire state? I’m not so sure what that will accomplish. It seems to me we risk harming those who had nothing to do with this, while letting others — businesses in California, Arizona and elsewhere — off the hook.

What do you think?

Comments

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Stefano A
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

Jim,

I’m all for it in principle as long as the target is appropriate.

I’m basically in agreement with this.

I’m uncomfortable with such a broad boycott that sweeps into the net both our allies, and our own along with our opponents. So I really couldn’t support a boycott of the entire state, especially when two of the most effected targets caught up in the net would be two of the most progressive areas which have the most gay or gay-friendly businesses, employees and residents. I could support a more narrowly targeted boycot.

Willie Hewes
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

Wrong target. Also, as the AFA have taught us, there’s no point to a boycott if there’s no demand. What could Utah do to make the boycott stop?

I don’t think it’s smart or makes a lot of sense.

Mark Kerr
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

It’s time to boycott those businesses as well as individuals (listed with businesses) who gave money or in-kind contributions to Florida’s “yes” on Amendment 2, Arizona’s “yes” on Proposition 102 and California’s “yes” on Proposition 8.

If a firm or company gave, it is time for the national LGBT community to pull their dollars from them.

AJD
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

Part of me says this is a great idea, but then part of me doesn’t… I think it would be better to target businesses affiliated with the LDS church.

On the other hand, a boycott of Utah as a whole could be a temporary thing, like six months to a year.

KipEsquire
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

I think there’s such as a thing as a rebuttable presumption, but that the onus is on the non-bigots in Utah and in LDS to make the effort to rebut the presumption rather than on me to determine who is and is not redeemable in that dreary mini-theocracy of a state.

John
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

The most important thing about boycotts is that they be easily understood. Focusing on Utah meets that, but there are problems.

I think that focusing on Mormon owned businesses wherever they are located makes more sense. It might surprise some to know that Mormons make a point of patronizing Mormon owned businesses. In Utah, the whole concept of a “business Mormon” is that one becomes Mormon in order to have their business survive.

However, the Mormon defense is to say, well what about the Catholics, and the Evangelicals? What about the Mormons who just sat on the sidelines? By trying to spread the focus, they hope to diffuse the impact and ultimately have it fizzle out.

If Avarosis wants this to succeed, he needs very specific targets, like Marriott.

But the focus must remain on the Mormons. Yes, they only made up a small percentage of the electorate, but without their money and organzing, Prop 8 would have failed. They must pay, and must understand that their actions will cost them. The more focused our target, the more likely they are to feel the pain.

Keep it simple and keep the pressure on the Mormon businesses, until the businesses pressure the Mormon Church to stay out of our lives.

elaygee
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

I agree about boycotting businesses that supported the anti gay marriage amendments. Publish the lists and lets be on with it.

fannie
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

I don’t think this is smart. I agree with some of the sentiment here that boycotting an entire state is just way too broad. It’s going to anger people in Utah who aren’t anti-gay and probably only hurt our cause.

cowboy
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

Nothing J. Willard Marriott could say to the Prophet will change anything.

Nothing happening in the marketplace will change the LDS dogma.

Tourism is a big industry in Utah but even if hotel-occupancy rates goes down a few percentage points there is nobody in the State of Utah Department of Economics, or Chamber of Commerce who would go to the LDS Church HQ and plead for a change to their dogma.

That ain’t gonna happen.

What will work: Making Mormons feel like heels. Making them feel uncomfortable with their exclusionary practices. Make “Mormon” a synonym for bigotry.

I would encourage gays to come to Utah. For the skiing. For the Sundance Film Festival. The more you show how “normal” and integrated gays are in society the better it will be for changing the mindset here.

Mark F.
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

Boycotting an entire state? This is ridiculous. Why not boycott the entire state of California if you buy this line of reasoning? Perhaps us Californians should all move out too.

larry
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

No one likes collateral damage. But it’s a forgone effect of war. Utah is a big, hard target because of its being the home of the Mormon church. I encourage gays to avoid Utah as if it were Jamaica. If you have to stop for gas, do it in Salt Lake City and skip the rest of the state. I also recommend a boycott in general centered on the Marriott corporation and other business-specific targets.

werdna
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

This kind of effort seems like a big waste of time. It’s really hard to organize an effective boycott, even when the goal and target are clear. Making a big fuss and then having it go nowhere is just going to make us look foolish and ineffective. I’d much rather focus on positive (and achievable) goals at this point.

Ray
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

I already do boycott certain businesses and products but I think boycotting a state and keeping up criticism of *any* religious group is not the best use of our resources.

What did black people do? They walked into lunch counters and parked their behinds on the seats. I think we must say that county license bureaus belongs to tax payers and that if *we* can’t get a marriage license, then that county license bureau is exactly where we should go and park our behinds. It’s the one place where we know we have enough people in every jurisdiction to walk in, sit on the floor, and make a political statement that takes the emphasis **off** of religious conflict and puts it **on** the civil justice issue where it belongs. So, I’m for doing sit-ins in every single county licensing bureau in California and bringing **ALL** county administrative services to a standstill, and keeping it up indefinitely.

We are *not* going to win the fight with religious groups. We at least have moral leverage as tax-payers. We pay for those licensing bureaus to be staffed. That’s where we should focus. Otherwise, we will be painted as anti-religion every single day and THAT, my dear brothers and sisters, is the surest way to hang ourselves.

Tavdy
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

So, I’m for doing sit-ins in every single county licensing bureau in California and bringing **ALL** county administrative services to a standstill, and keeping it up indefinitely. – Ray

That will have the added bonus of denying the bigots the very same thing they’re denying us – marriage.

Derek Scruggs
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

It’s worth noting that Utah passed an anti-gay marriage amendment in 2004 with close to 60% of the vote. If they believe gay marriage is so scary it has to be barred by their constitution, then surely a little boycott is worth the benefits.

Colorado (where I live) was similarly boycotted in the early 90s for an anti-gay amendment, and it did a lot to wake up moderates.

Mike
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

I’m not gay and I don’t live in Utah (anymore) or California, but I can assure you that this all originated in Utah. It is also true that not all Utahns are Mormons and there are some Mormons who opoposed 8. However, they in the minority.

Thomas
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

Ummm is Utah a large gay vacation destination or site of gay mega-conferences? What real damage to their economy can be done with a boycott? Hell they may even think it’s worth the cost – “we’re missing out on some money, but them pesky gays aren’t coming around anymore. Now maybe the rest of ‘em will leave – score!”

On the other hand – Utah enacted prohibitions against gay marriage. I know, I know, a lot of other states have done the same thing. But Utah’s in-state legal prohibitions in combination with the Mormon outreach program to spread the hate makes it a legitimate target, albeit not a particularly politically useful one.

cowboy
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

News: Pro-gay Equality Utah has asked for help from the Mormon Church. They’re saying: if the Mormons are true to their word when they say they are for equal civil rights for gays then the Church should help persuade Utah State legislators to give gays the same rights as those who are “married”.

JJ in Chicago
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

I agree with you, Jim.

We risk pulling a Donald Wildmon, where a boycott is broadcast everywhere, and then FLOPS, just like the American Family Association.

Truth is, the gay community doesn’t have enough pull on the marriage issue to successfully boycott Utah. It’s not like their tourism industry rivals that of Florida either.

And we’d be hurting allies in the process.

The energy would be better spent educating communities on why marriage equality is important and how to recognize stereotypes and fear tactics that our opponents often employ– knowing that people fall for it.

Ken R
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

News: Pro-gay Equality Utah has asked for help from the Mormon Church. They’re saying: if the Mormons are true to their word when they say they are for equal civil rights for gays then the Church should help persuade Utah State legislators to give gays the same rights as those who are “married”.

Cowboy, this puts the Mormon Church in a rather interesting dilemma doesn’t it? If the Mormons help pass civil unions for gay persons in Utah then the Religious Right will never cease on their condemnations against them. What little respect those in the RR had for them since the passage of Prop 8 will be wiped out. And if the Mormons are not true to their word how can anyone believe anything they say?

Rather interesting indeed.

I’m looking forward to their answer.

John
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

The Mormon Church does not believe in equality for gays and lesbians. A true civil union law in Utah would never fly. This is just another of their many anti-gay lies. They will just ignore it, and it will go nowhere in a legislature they control. Dream on.

By the way, on the issue of boycotts, friends of mine who are former Mormons said that the Church went so far as to demand their tax returns to determine if they were paying their proper 10% tithe to the Church. They were so insulted that they quit the Church. But the lesson I took from this is that 10% of whatever I spend at a Mormon business is going to fund a Church that is out to deny me my rights, regardless of what the business owner’s politics are. Reason enough for me to avoid any Mormon owned business that I can identify.

cowboy
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

Ken R,

I, too, am curious about this news. I have to do a little research on the controversy during last year’s legislature session. I seem to remember the City of Salt Lake (which is more liberal) gave equal rights to their domestic partners and then Sen. Chris Buttars threw a hissy-fit. Either Mr. Buttars believes what his church believes or he…well…would be a text-book definition of a hypocrite.

John,

Oh…I could write a whole book about the unique spectacle called: Tithing Settlement in the Mormon Church. It happens every end-of-year. Right during the most festive time of year: between Christmas and New Years’ each member is called and a time is set for an interview with the local Bishop. They determine what is agreed upon should be considered a full tithe. It’s especially interesting when you consider your local Mormon Bishop is a non-paid, lay clergy. He could be your friend. He could be your business co-worker. He could be Joe-the-Plumber. Do you see the potential for a comedy? Even on Broadway: Tithing Settlement the Musical. (I should write the screenplay and Sir Elton John could do the music.)

HappyCat
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

I am all for NO TO UTAH. The Sate has led LDS become the Major Player there. If the people of Utah know they are targeted by the actions of the Mormons, that have the largest say. If the people of Utah want to support the LDS, then SAY NO TO UTAH. If the people of Utah say hold up LDS, your actions hurt all of us in Utah and LDS listens and backs off spreading hate into other states, boycott over.

paul J stein
November 10th, 2008 | LINK

I was lucky enough to spend a few years in rural North Carolina attending a Mormon church, but as a guest and not a member. As a Gay Yankee from ohio i was to say the least, apprehensive and skeptical of how I would be treated. After a year or so of attending “sisterhood” meetings then going to “priesthood” meetings at each service a directive came down from on high,(SaltLakeCity). The branch was directed to join the condemnation of Gays & Lesbians and the lifestyle. The branch leader was hesitant to read it as he very much disagreed with the content, he did his job as he always did. He read it. The older matriarchs went off and let him have it for talking against me. I wanted to disappear. The older beautiful ladies were on the cellphones to SLC letting them have it. I still go back for weddings and to see my buddies, check out the current missionaries, work on some cars. We need to do this on a personal level. Core beliefs are reinforced through personal contact,trust and shared life experiences.

David
November 11th, 2008 | LINK

I support a full scale boycott of the Mormon state of Utah as the poster state for all churches nationally that discriminate against anyone for anything, and lift the boycott against the state at the appropriate time, keeping a national religious discrimination boycott in place.
This would not mean staying away from your church, but taking the funds you would give the church and giving it in support of whatever current minority the church happens to fancy for the current target.
This is not just gays at bat here, this is closer to 50% of Americans who are fed up with discrimination of any kind.
I think it’s time churches nationally put a moritorium on all discrimination, permanently. Until they do, I think a permanent national religious boycott wallet squeeze and a temporary state squeeze to solidify the message could be productive world wide.
When the paychecks reduce in dollars, you will be amazed at how the choir sings a different tune.

Erin
November 11th, 2008 | LINK

I think my home state of Arizona deserves the same – after all, it wasn’t until we started losing convention revenue that this ridiculous state woke up to Mecham’s denial of MLK day. Let’s see who wins out in this allegedly moral and religious fight – all-mighty God, or the all-mighty dollar? I’m willing to see our economy further strained if it means that equality wins in the end. I feel confident that if big business starts taking their money elsewhere, the legislature will suddenly take a leadership position on the issue.

Mark H
November 11th, 2008 | LINK

I have no problem what a church wants their own members to do within their own congregation, but there was a million dollar donation to block same sex civil unions by a Utah resident (Alan Ashton – OUTED!) and last time I checked Utah was squarely outside the California border.

The problem is not what they believe, it’s that they use their church, its infrastructure, and its money to push through legislation that impacts others. This is not the first time they’ve blurred the lines of separation of church and state – they tried to block the ERA and during the recent Republican Primary they were using BYU and official church structures to try and get LDS Mitt Romney elected; they went as far as to send out letters on BYU Marriott Business School stationery – which they later apologized.

Who wants to give money to a bunch of narrow minded “we’re Christians cause Christ is in the name” Mormons.

mark
November 11th, 2008 | LINK

can anybody send me a list with all that people or business who gave money …i will boycott them and so should everybody else….that bigots are happy to take our money …and that’s where we can hit them…money is for the Mormons the most important thing that’s how they control everything
mark94131@aol.com

Michelle
November 12th, 2008 | LINK

A specific, pointed, precisely targeting attack is most effective.

Boycott LDS-owned companies.

Boycott businesses that supported Yes on 8 and other anti-equality legislation.

I’m in for that. Where do I sign up?

Stephen
November 13th, 2008 | LINK

The presumption here is that only gays are motivated to boycott? Every straight person I know is also incensed. I think California was a line in the sand, and subsequently a wake-up call, not just to gays, but to many many broad minded citizens. Don’t forget that.

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