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Steve Lopez’ Heart Bleeds for Margie Christoffersen

Timothy Kincaid

December 14th, 2008

RIOT GEAR?

RIOT GEAR?

LA Times columnist Steve Lopez has decided to come riding up on his white horse to the aid of poor Margie Christoffersen.

And you know how sometimes you read a story and it becomes clear that the writer has no idea what they’re talking about? That was pretty evident in this case.

Lopez is not known for his balanced reporting. I don’t regularly read his column because it seldom includes much more than his own personal views illustrated by an anecdotal story. And this time he was no more prepared, knowledgeable, or objective than usual.

As the saying goes, Lopez is entitled to his own opinion, but he’s not entitled to his own facts. Here are a few examples of how he got it wrong:

A boycott was organized on the Internet, with activists trashing El Coyote on restaurant review sites. Then came throngs of protesters, some of them shouting “shame on you” at customers. The police arrived in riot gear one night to quell the angry mob.

Steve doesn’t tell you that the “angry mob” consisted mostly of regular customers and that those throngs met mostly on one night organized for just that purpose. Nor were they in any way “quelled”. Lopez selected untruthful imagery to advance his argument.

And if you want to see an example of the police “in riot gear” just look at the picture that the Times used on Steve’s article. The man on the right in the short sleve black shirt without a helmet and holding a flashlight is a policeman. I wouldn’t want to be him in a riot.

But it wouldn’t stir up sympathy for Margie if he said, “Four police officers helped keep the protest on the sidewalk. The crowd was cooperative and at no time was there any confrontation with the police.”

But I didn’t like what I was hearing about the vilification of Margie Christoffersen and others in California being targeted for the crime of voting their conscience.

Never – EVER – has Margie been “targeted for the crime of voting her conscience”. That’s just factually untrue. Margie was targeted because she presented a supportive front to her gay customers while she simultaneously funded efforts to take away a fundamental right. This is not a matter of semantics, it’s a matter of facts.

So even if Margie returns to work at El Coyote, her husband said, “she will never, ever be back here on a Thursday night.”

Thursdays, as tradition had it, the place was mobbed with gay customers.

I had lunch at El Coyote on Thursday, and most of the tables were empty.

Here’s where Steve displays his ignorance.

El Coyote was not a restaurant with one “gay night”. On any given night of the week a significant segment of the customers were gay.

And gay customers are not upset that Margie was there on Thursdays. They are upset that she betrayed them. Clearly neither Lopez nor Wayne Christoffersen yet understand why El Coyote’s gay customers left.

Steve Lopez can eat there any time he likes. But as for me, if Margie comes back at all – Thursdays or any days – I won’t.

Comments

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AJD
December 14th, 2008 | LINK

The most pathetic part was when she said “I love [gays] like everybody else.”

Well, apparently, she doesn’t have a problem with relegating us to a lesser sociopolitical status in order to make her personal beliefs about marriage into reality. I guess her notion of “love” is different from the one I was taught to have.

David
December 14th, 2008 | LINK

It would be good if everyone who has attended any of the demonstrations, or Margie’s Justification Party, were to write the LA Times and correct the record.

Gotta love that ‘mobbed with gay customers’ slant too. Not ‘packed’ or ‘full’, but ‘mobbed’.

Wish I could get my partner to agree to cancelling the LA Times as well. Seems like every week, there’s another negatively spun attack on GLBTQ people in the LA Times.

Regan DuCasse
December 14th, 2008 | LINK

I sent Tim and Jim a copy of the letter I sent to the LATimes. I’ve been trying to call Marjie, but no response. There has been very little we can do to try and talk to anyone and deal with them face to face.

What I said at the meeting, but mostly in my letter was this: I grew up in Los Angeles. There used to be lots of white owned businesses in black neighborhoods that had black employees and patrons.

But these same owners wouldn’t live nearby, their children wouldn’t attend school with black children, nor would they have black people to their homes as peers and friends.
And they would vote for laws to keep things that way.
But would always refer to the black people they knew who supported their lives as ‘friends’.
When you have public friendliness, but private political views that maintain an already unfair hierarchy, it is a profound betrayal.

Marjie emotional display, is starting to disgust me. Her ploy for sympathy brings out the cynic in me.

Here’s why.

Marjie, knowing so many gay people would have to also know of the legacy of discrimination and how it manifests daily in their lives.
She should also know that Prop. 8 was a DIRECT law that affected the quality of life for gay couples and their children.

She might as well have voted for red lining in real estate to keep blacks from buying houses in her neighborhood.
Or against interracial marriage for that matter.

At what expense and whose did she think this law would come?
Is it okay to her to make gay couples the convenient sacrifice, while at the same time expecting support for HER lifestyle?

I would LOVE to explain all this to her.
But she ain’t picking up the phone to call me back.

As far as I could tell, I was the only black person in the room.
Sometimes I try to get to the heart of an issue when certain types of communication break down. It doesn’t matter what we say if deaf ears are turned our way.

jeff
December 14th, 2008 | LINK

I read the article in the Times today. I rarely like anything bleeding heart Steve Lopez has to say. He is annoying, at best.

He must have some real big secrets about something to have remained on the Times staff so long. Just sayin’

I have eaten at El Coyote, it is about on par with Don Jose’s…fills you up but not very good.

Jason D
December 14th, 2008 | LINK

What marjie wants is not friends, but sychophants. “yes men”, if you will.

Those that love us challenge us, those that love us hold us accountable for the ways we hurt them – this is part and parcel of friendship.

What doesn’t occur to marjie is that she stabbed her “friends” in the back, and now she wants those very same friends to either look the other way, or tell her it’s okay. It’s not. It never will be. She gave with one hand and took with the other. It’s as simple as that.

If you love someoneone, if you are friends with someone, you don’t tell them what will make them happy, you let them do that for themselves, and so long as they are not hurting themselves or others, you do not stand in their way. You certainly don’t act surprised and pissed off when they find the knife in their back.

It’s as if they don’t understand the implications of what they’ve done, and have no clue that we were actually serious about this. This wasn’t some game or lark for us, we meant it.

Laura
December 14th, 2008 | LINK

I believe Margie DID vote with her conscience and that is fine by me. But to then whine about how the rest of us choose to protest is ridiculous. Since Mormon/Catholic/Christian rights are not on the ballot, it is our right to vote OUR conscience by not giving money to those who would choose to take away our rights. I am so tired of listening to how the religious right feels persecuted. Many companies have been boycotted for their support of gay rights – when the shoe is on the other foot they paint us out to be radicals.

Jack
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy – PLEASE write a letter to the editor of the Times… or, even better, an opinion column. It’s the TIMES readers that need to read this column, and I don’t know how many read Box Turtle.

David
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

Laura, you made a great point.

“But to then whine about how the rest of us choose to protest is ridiculous.”

We should recognize, and make clear to others, that the criticism of the protests express a particular point of view on the part of homophobes/prop 8 supporters: that GLBTQ people really shouldn’t have the right to assemble, either. They think it is wrong that we can gather in public. That is the message of their exagerations and complaints about the marches (Applies to pride celebrations too). (Amend 1: “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”)

Additionally, the whole ’8 was about resenting judicial activism’ thing is actually a complaint about the fact that GLBTQ people took their case to court, and won. The message is – GLBTQ people should not have the right to a fair, impartial trial. (Amend 5: ” nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; “)

The complaints about boycotts, when we do it to protest Prop 8, indicate a belief that we really shouldn’t have control over how we spend our money, that we should not be protected by the 14th amendment either.

Essentially, homophobes/prop 8 supporters resent it when we exercise any civil rights – indicating that they believe we should have none at all.

FTracy
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

Targeting a business that is a major contributor to Prop 8 seems to me to be fair game–but even then should be done judiciously because any time you boycott a business you hurt far more people than the people there who opposed your cause. You hurt the employees and their families.

But targeting a business that merely EMPLOYS (El Coyote) somone who supported Prop 8 is out of line and is the worst form of GayCarthyism.

I’ve read far more hatred on this site than I’ve actually heard from the Mormons. Are their views discriminatory? Yes, but they are also traditional..and they are not Fred Phelps.

But as long as you call ignorance, prejudice, or even some deeply held moral beliefs “hate”…I have no doubt that Margie probably doesn’t feel the emotion of hate in her heart..but let’s just call her a hater. Let’s ignore the fact that she’s supported gay causes and fundraisers over the years. Sadly, if you tell people who don’t hate you often enough that they do, it becomes self-fulfilling.

While I was writing this I just heard some a-hole calling in to a talk show saying he was going to “crush” Margie because she’s weak. Sigh.

Timothy Kincaid
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

FTracy,

Margie is not “merely employed”. She and her husband are the family management of a family business. Margie is the face of El Coyote.

And no, you have not read hatred on this site. We have a rather strick comments policy (which I’m sure our readers will attest). Nor do we call all ignorance, prejudice or deeply held moral beliefs “hate”.

Roger Finch
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

Funny how anything opposed or seen as opposing the gay agenda is targetted.
Do you really think that putting a business owner out of business will ever win you support ? After all, we are talking about a mere $100 donation, which is nothing more than a token gift, but so easy for those of you willing to boycott and picket the place to overlook the gay employee’s, the gay functions that she has supported over the years and everything.
Since when has it become a crime to hold to your beliefs ? And I know you hate hearing it, but even if your in the freeist nation in the world, and mankind will give you freedom to do what you want…the laws of God haven’t changed, and neither has his views of your lifestyle. It isn’t hate in all cases, and the gay activists have done a very poor job at separating the haters from those true to their beliefs. This act alone..much less others in the past prove you to be the sheltered ungracious and immature whiners that the general masses don’t like. I don’t mind people all having equal rights, pay, benefits…but to my beliefs, I can’t stand by and see you defame the word “marriage”. But then again, no one said you can’t have your own word for the same union. Your activists are shooting your cause in the foot through their arrogance, through their selfish ungracious acts and by trying to force their agenda down everyone’s throats with impunity.
Honey draws more flies than honey my friend, and if you can’t step outside your agenda enough to see the big picture or to know what will work to gain support, perhaps you should stay out of the mix.

Stefano A
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

The state has legitimate interests in placing limits on some freedoms. However, the state has no legitimate interest in imposing religious doctrine regarding marriage onto ALL citizens who do not all hold the same religious belief(s).

The US has a two-tier recognition of marriage. One tier is that of religious institutions. The other is that of the state, ie. civil recognition wherein even if you have a religious “holy rite” of marriage, that doesn’t automatically grant you marital recognition.

The state does not dictate the theology of religious institutions nor dictate whom those religious institutions will perform ceremonies for or recognize as marriagble. However, you, with your religious beliefs, are wanting the state to impose that very thing.

Keep in mind, that following that line, the state would have every right to null divorce laws, ban inter-faith marriages, etc. based on “mob rule” of Christians if they so decided to state Jewish, Muslim, or non-religious civil ceremonies of event straights should be null and void even for heterosexuals as such heterosexual marriages would not be a “religious” marriage as you define it.

Stefano A
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

Following your line of reasoning, the state should require everyone to follow, for instance, the Muslim Sharia laws regarding marriage when it comes to inheritance rights, if you wish to breakdown the current two-tier system separate into “religious marriage” and “civil marriage”.

freddie
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

I’m getting really tired of the “it’s only $100″ and “she’s just an employee” stuff. She’s one of the owners of the place — and still is, even though she quit as an “employee.” And through her $100 donation we learned that she’s been donating 10% of her income to a church that declared open war on us. What we’re doing isn’t hate, it’s refusing to fund discrimination against ourselves. Get over it.

Zeke
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

So when gay people show up in droves to pay money for crappy food they’re accused of “mobbing” the place.

In today’s economy I bet their are tens of thousands of businesses that would give their eye teeth to be “mobbed” by paying customers.

It’s just more of the vilifying and demonizing of gay people. When we express our freedom of speech through our pocket books we are bullies and terrorists but when Margie does it she is a hero and a victim.

When we are enthusiastic in our patronage of a business on a particular night we are “mobbing” the business whereas when straight people do the same they are value reliable customers.

No wonder we can’t catch a break in this culture and society. No matter what we do we are villains, bullies, hate mongers and terrorists.

Zeke
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

Thank you Roger for bringing the Focus on the Family point of view (and talking points to the discussion).

It just wouldn’t be the same around here without the always to be expected shout out from Colorado Springs blog trolls.

Tell me, why is it that none of your Christian sites offer open comment sections like this one and practically every other gay blog site does? The ones that do offer them won’t post a comment that contridicts their point of view. Why is that?

You should be thankful that, at the very least, you are allowed to come here and make your misinformed anti-gay comments.

Lisa Derrick
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

here are excerpts of what I sent to Steve Lopez
http://campaignsilo.firedoglake.com/2008/12/14/in-response-to-steve-lopez-of-the-la-times-on-el-coyote/

She never acknowledged the hypocrisy of her church, which willingly took her tithe of ten per cent, and her donation of $100, earned from selling forbidden alcohol and coffee to gay customers….

As a native Angeleno, I hope El Coyote does not disappear; I hope that its customer base returns to support the staff and this historic restaurant. It would be sad to lose a piece of history and have an ugly scar on Beverly Blvd in place of the low slung white adobe building with its iconic neon sign. And to have 89 more people unemployed in a city facing a massive economic downturn.

I feel for Marjorie, that her faith has so harmed her and those who thought of her as a truly compassionate friend. Her world has been shaken; she suddenly learned that her comforting religion rent asunder decades of friendships, her family’s legacy in Los Angeles, and perhaps even caused a chink in her own beliefs.

She and those who were used by their faiths to further a un-American agenda of stripping and denying rights to one set of citizens need our prayers that the scales will fall from their eyes. And those of us concerned about civil marriage rights need to continue to work on levels–practical, political, and spiritual–to secure and insure those rights for all.

David
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

Mr. Finch:

“Funny how anything opposed or seen as opposing the gay agenda is targetted.”

The word “anything” is all inclusive, if there is even one contrary example, its use is a lie. There are thousands of examples of GLBTQ people ignoring minor attacks on our lives and liberty, so, your claim is a lie.

“Do you really think that putting a business owner out of business will ever win you support ?”

Actually, yes. It indicates to people who are on the fence, that this is serious, it isn’t the trivial matter homophobes make it out to be. Humans tend to judge actions by their reactions, and the furor over Prop 8 makes it clear – Prop 8 is a hate crime.

“After all, we are talking about a mere $100 donation, which is nothing more than a token gift,”

Hey, $100 will buy a lot of yard signs, a lot of postage for mass mailings.

“but so easy for those of you willing to boycott and picket the place”

So easy of you to forget that we still have the right to decide how we will spend our income.

“to overlook the gay employee’s,”

That’s not a very accurate claim, actually. First, you cannot know whether any decision is easy for anyone else, unless they tell you. Here on this blog is a wealth of posts and comments detailing how difficult a decision it was. Bearing false witness is a sin, Mr. Finch.

“Since when has it become a crime to hold to your beliefs ?”

First, it becomes a crime to hold to one’s beliefs whenever those beliefs lead to inflicting harm. So, for a convenient example, the Mormons in Texas who still believe that polygamy is God’s will, commit crimes when they take additional wives.

Further, this is not about Margie holding to her beliefs, but, rather, about Margie forcing millions of other people to hold to her beliefs, contrary to their own, through her donation. Please try to be honest. It will help.

“And I know you hate hearing it,”
Mind-reading is kinda forbidden by the Bible in the charges against sorcerers and witches and fortune-tellers. I suggest you stop.

“the laws of God haven’t changed,”

Such as “thou shalt not bear false witness”, but that hasn’t stopped you. And God’s law “Love your neighbor as yourself” not only condemns Prop 8, donating to support Prop 8, and your post, it does not condemn homosexuality.

“neither has his views of your lifestyle.”
What exactly does the Bible say about being a blogger? The Bible is silent on homosexuality, when it is translated accurately and read in context.

“It isn’t hate in all cases,”
Sometimes it is ignorance, as well as hate.

“the gay activists have done a very poor job at separating the haters from those true to their beliefs.”

Haters are true to their beliefs. Of course, your claim is false, for GLBTQ people have been extremely patient, compared to homophobes and conservative Christians.

“This act alone..much less others in the past prove you to be the sheltered ungracious and immature whiners that the general masses don’t like.”

You are bearing false witness again, as well as violating Jesus’s teachings. It is important for you to realize that your lies and slanders do not fool anyone.

“I don’t mind people all having equal rights, pay, benefits…but to my beliefs, I can’t stand by and see you defame the word “marriage”.”

The second half of your sentence proves that the first half is a lie.

“But then again, no one said you can’t have your own word for the same union.”

Wrong again. With your batting average, back to the minor leagues. The CA Supreme Court ruling made it very clear, the word itself carries so much weight, creating a separate, equal institution would still deprive GLBTQ people of fully equality.

I have some sad news for you too, in the next post.

“Your activists are shooting your cause in the foot through their arrogance, through their selfish ungracious acts and by trying to force their agenda down everyone’s throats with impunity.”

Wrong again. History indicates that strident opposition to injustice is vital. By the way, accusing us of forcing an agenda is worn out cliche of a lie. We did not create any of the anti-gay legislations that force everyone to act as if there was something wrong with homosexuality.

Really, it is pretty arrogant of you to revile our lives, trot out ‘God’s Law’, and then proceed to lie over and over and over again.

“Honey draws more flies than honey my friend, and if you can’t step outside your agenda enough to see the big picture or to know what will work to gain support, perhaps you should stay out of the mix.”

It is tragic, and yet amusingly hypocritical, when someone offers such advise that they clearly do not live.

David
December 15th, 2008 | LINK

“the word “marriage”. ”

Yeah, another homophobe claims that it was all about retaining exclusive heterosexual control of the word marriage. Of course, he’s complaining about our freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, right to due process, as well as our right to marry.

Trouble is, they lost the battle for the word even as they won their amendments in California, Arizona and Florida, and some twenty plus other states. They took the license away, but lost the word.

Language is a very fluid thing, and the meanings of words are defined as much, if not more, by usage and context, than by dictionaries, scholars, or even civil violence in the voting booth. Every time opponents of equal rights for GLBTQ people used the phrase ‘gay marriage’ or ‘same-sex marriage’ – they reinforced the concept at the unconscious level. People having been hearing “same-sex marriage” so much, that even homophobes are thinking that our relationships are marriage. The concepts “same-sex” and “marriage” are irrevocably married now. It is only a matter of time until the law catches up with language.

Prop 8 supporters, and their peers and predecessors, didn’t ban “same-sex shacking up”, nor did they ban “same-sex cohabitation”. They didn’t make a new word for us and then ban that. No, they applied the word “marriage” to us and our relationships, called our relationships a kind of marriage, and then proceed to prevent the licensing of that kind of marriage.

Two men in love, or two women in love, are not “just friends” anymore, or “longtime companions”; we’re married, denied a license; thanks in no small part to the anti-gay propoganda.

And I believe that ultimately, the license will follow, same-sex marriage will be legal across the U.S. It may take months or years or decades. During that time, GLBTQ people will be harmed by the lack of that simple contract, and more enough het people will notice. Eventually, opposition to same-sex marriage will be seen not as a matter of ethics or beliefs or sophistry, but for what it really is – petty sadism, a hate crime, mob violence for the sole purpose of harming millions of people just a little bit longer.

They gave us the word. Our relationships are in the dictionaries as part of the definition of “marriage”, our relationships are a common usage of the word marriage.

Mr. Finch, my husband and I are married, we just don’t have the license.

StephanieInCA
December 16th, 2008 | LINK

Basically what Ms. Christoffersen is saying here is that gay Californians don’t deserve the right to marry, but they *do* deserve the right to spend money at her restaurant?

No wonder she’s singing a different tune now that SHE’s the one who stands to lose something.

Read more: Tacos, with a side of bigotry

Kevin
December 21st, 2008 | LINK

I’m hearing a lot about the boycott hurting innocent employees. You know what? It happens in every fight. During the civil rights movement the boycotts hurt many blacks and yes even some whites who felt things should be different. It’s an unfortunate but necessary cost to achieve a few simple human rights. I’m an african american hetero male of Jamaican decent and believe me it doesn’t get more homophobic than my upbringing but in my years I’ve managed to dispel all of the “beliefs” about homosexuality I had learned in that time. If california passed a law saying I couldn’t love and marry whomever I choose I’d fight it and if my employer was to back said law I’d leave. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say I love gays and lesbians and then say that they can’t have the same rights afforded to the rest of the population because one statement makes a lie of the other. The question was asked if the pro 8 crowd should boycott Apple for supporting no on 8. I say if you believe it strong enough then by all means do it but don’t cry because others have taken the initiative to voice their opinion on the matter. Organized Religion has gone way right field when they start taking rights away from people instead of helping to teach love, understanding and EQUAL rights for all of Gods children for we are all created by Him and He doesn’t make mistakes.

Timothy Kincaid
December 21st, 2008 | LINK

I’m an african american hetero male of Jamaican decent and believe me it doesn’t get more homophobic than my upbringing but in my years I’ve managed to dispel all of the “beliefs” about homosexuality I had learned in that time.

Kevin, you’re a hero.

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