Front Desk

The price of free speech

San Diego hotelier Doug Manchester is learning that free speech may be a protected right, but it comes with a price. The owner of two local properties, including the Grand Hyatt, is under fire by gay rights activists for his $125,000 donation to support a ballot initiative to overturn California law that allows same-sex marriage.

Californians Against Hate is among the groups who've threatened to organize a boycott of Manchester's hotels, a threat that could have teeth if it gains any traction among gay and lesbian groups and those who support the cause of same-sex marriage. Manchester cites his religious beliefs to explain his support of the proposed initiative.

No matter your viewpoints on the issue, you must admire Manchester for sticking to his guns—at least so far—in this controversy. His real test will come if and when the boycott takes effect and if it has any effect on his business. Especially in this tight economy it's hard to imagine that his properties can take much of a hit.

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