The consequences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ decision to enter the political arena and seek secular enforcement of their religious doctrines can be measured in part by the chaos and turmoil caused in the lives and livelihoods of their own members.
We know of families who have been torn apart by Mormon theology on human sexuality. We know of suicides and depression. We know of estranged children and miserable holidays. But we respect the rights of churches to select their own articles of faith – even those that bring unhappiness on those adherants who are gay.
But when the Mormon Church decided to spread outside of its own fold, the tragedy expanded to neighbors and employees and friends and customers. No longer can hurt and difficulty be excused as a matter of private faith; now we see and condemn the public policy efforts that have left a trail of victims in their wake.
And not all victims of this agressive effort are gay, some are faithful members of the church that have been caught in the crossfire.
One example of such is Marjorie Chrisoffersen, the family manager of El Coyote Restaurant. Word of her contribution of $100 to the Yes on 8 Campaign has flown by email throughout Los Angeles’ gay community. And with this community – and its friends and allies – as her best customers, this has the potential to severely hinder her business.
Today Margie released a message:
I have been sick at heart that anyone has been offended by me. I have family, friends, employees from the gay community who are treasured people in my life.
I have been a member of the Mormon church all my life. I responded to their request with my personal donation.
For years the El Coyote has financially and generously supported the gay community and its charities.
Please be my guest for an early lunch Wed., Nov. 12th, @ 11:00 am and allow me to personally speak with you.
Please call and make a reservation as seating is limited. (323) 939-2255.
I don’t believe that Margie acted out of ill intentions. I suspect that she was just obedient to a call put out by her church leadership, a leadership that I believe gave no care or concern to the sacrifice that they had requested of those members with gay friends, families, and customers.
But I may be wrong. She may feel that the profits made from catering to our community can then be spent on civil harm towards us – as long as the motivation is religious.
I have made my reservation for tomorrow. I want to hear whether Margie believes that giving to a charity excuses taking away a basic right. I want to hear whether she will provide statements of justification or a request for forgiveness.
11/10/2008 – I had dinner at El Coyote tonight. When Marj finished having dinner with her family, I called her over to my table and asked “What was your position on Prop 8?”, She replied with “I love you guys, I would never do anything to hurt you, I wish I hadn’t done it”.
She was sincerely regretful, I could feel her hurt as she probably felt mine.
But from Eater:
“El Coyote is known for being a melting pot, we love and tolerate everyone. This has nothing to do with the restaurant. I donated through my church. We would never tell our employees they couldn’t contribute to political organizations—as individuals, they do and support whatever they want. El Coyote has donated thousands of dollars to the gay community through charitable organizations. As a rule, we don’t do politics. We have too many varying opinions here, and that’s the staff’s right.”
While the former sounds a bit like, “I’m sorry”, this statement sounds like justification. It’s the age old plea that “my personal actions should not have any impact on my business” and “I’m separate from my restaurant, so just ignore that the profits come to me”.
I do not in any way challenge Marjorie Cristoffersen’s right to contribute to whomever she wishes. But she will not use profits made from my dollar to take away my rights.
And frankly, I’m not all that interested in being “tolerated” at the moment.
So I’m quite interested in hearing what Margie will have to say tomorrow.
There are now over 4,000 google hits for “el coyote” prop 8.
For an update to this story, see: El Coyote: An Uncompromising Faith