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Prop. 8 boycott talk spreads to movies and more

November 13, 2008 | 12:04 pm

No on Proposition 8 supporters protest in front of El Coyote Restaurant

The boycott effort against businesses whose owners backed Proposition 8 appears to be picking up steam.

Dozens of groups have sprouted up on Facebook.com urging its members to boycott businesses -- restaurants, jewelry stores, car-repair shops and more. Other activists have gone onto Yelp.com and other business rating sites, posting messages telling users which restaurants donated to the "Yes on 8" campaign.

There has also been talk of a boycott of the Cinemark movie chain, whose CEO gave money to "Yes on 8." This could have a major effect on the Sundance Film Festival, which uses the chain's theaters to show movies.

The actions have alarmed supporters of Prop. 8, which banned gay marriage in California.

"Since Proposition 8’s victory, a series of protests against churches, small businesses and individual supporters of traditional marriage have taken place in cities across the state," Ron Prentice, chairman of ProtectMarriage.com, wrote in a statement. "Tragically, some opponents of Prop. 8 who claim to cherish tolerance and civil rights are unabashedly trampling on the rights of others. Protests and boycotts have taken place against a Hispanic restaurant owner in Los Angeles, African American religious leaders in the Bay Area, and a musical theater director in Sacramento, among many others."

Robert Hoehn, vice president of Hoehn Motors in San Diego County, gave $25,000 of his own money to the Yes-on-8 campaign in February. And he called what followed “a really really ugly experience.”

Before the vote, Hoehn said, he he received “dozens and dozens and dozens of really vitriolic messages” and his Honda dealership was picketed.  Since the proposition won, he said, he has received a few messages and phone calls denouncing his support for the measure.

It started with a handful of restaurants including L.A. institution El Coyote, where one of the owners contributed money to the "Yes on 8" campaign. Gay-rights activists have threatened a boycott, but the owners say so far they have not noticed a drop in business. The restaurants targeted include chains such as El Pollo Loco, Burger King, Outback Steakhouse, Yard House and more.

There is now chatter about a "gay day off," in which activists would simply not buy anything.

--Cara Mia DiMassa, Tami Adbollah and Shelby Grad

Photo: No on Prop 8 supporters protest at L.A. restaurant El Coyote.  Lori Shepler/Los Angeles Times.