Marjorie’s Story Finally Told
The outrage continues at the treatment of private donors as the L.A. Times discovers some of the civilian casualties caused by their publicity of the prop 8 donor rolls. It’s great that the L.A. Times is the newest Johnny-come-lately to a realization of the damage being done by their public listings. Honest civilians in the war on marriage have been targeted all across California in a wave of New McCarthyism as gay activists take revenge for their political losses at the polls.
Private donations are an expression of free speech, and as a major force in print media, the L.A. Times should have presented that facet of the issue first and foremost. Instead, the Times ignored that and looked the other way while gay activists went to war with the information provided by their Times’ own website. The blogs and other so-called “Pajama Media” put the big dogs to shame on this one.
Considering the Times was one of the most vocal proponents of publicizing the donor rolls, this sympathetic interview is good, but for civilians like Scott Eckern and Marjorie Christoffersen who lost their jobs, it will never be enough.
A life thrown into turmoil by $100 donation for Prop. 8
Steve Lopez– L.A. Times, Dec. 14, 2008
Margie Christoffersen didn’t make it very far into our conversation before she cracked.Chest heaving, tears streaming, she reached for her husband Wayne’s hand and then mine, squeezing as if she’d never let go.
“I’ve almost had a nervous breakdown. It’s been the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,” she sobbed as curious patrons at a Farmers Market coffee shop looked on, wondering what calamity had visited this poor woman who’s an honest 6 feet tall, with hair as blond as the sun.
Well, Christoffersen was a manager at El Coyote, the Beverly Boulevard landmark restaurant that’s always had throngs of customers waiting to get inside. Many of them were gay, and Christoffersen, a devout Mormon, donated $100 in support of Proposition 8, the successful November ballot initiative that banned gay marriage.
She never advertised her politics or religion in the restaurant, but last month her donation showed up on lists of “for” and “against” donors. And El Coyote became a target.
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.
The mob left, but so did the customers.
Sections of the restaurant have been closed, a manager told me Friday during a very quiet lunch hour. Some of the 89 employees, many of them gay, have had their hours cut, and layoffs are looming. And Christoffersen, who has taken a voluntary leave of absence, is wondering whether she’ll ever again be able to work at the restaurant, which opened in 1931 (at 1st and La Brea) and is owned by her 92-year-old mother.
“It’s been so hard,” she said, breaking down again.
A lot of customers saw Christoffersen as the face of the restaurant. She was the hostess who roamed from table to table with a pitcher of water, refilling glasses and schmoozing with friends.
Christoffersen, raised Mormon by her late father, told me she has no problem with gay people.
“I love them like everybody else.”
I sat on the patio with Wayne and two other El Coyote managers — Arnoldo Archila and Bill Schoeppner — who happen to be gay.
“We always joked around with Margie,” said Schoeppner, who’s been on the job 26 years. “I’m a Democrat and voted for Obama; she probably voted for McCain — so what? If she were a bigot or a homophobe, you wouldn’t have had all these gay people” working at the restaurant or eating at it.
Besides, the donation was personal.
“She didn’t cut a check from the restaurant,” added Archila, a 28-year employee. “The restaurant didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Archila said he and other employees voted no on Prop. 8 and gave money to the legal challenge. As someone who came to the U.S. 30 years ago from El Salvador, Archila said, he’s always cherished this country’s right of free speech and the diversity of opinion.
“You can express yourself as a citizen,” said Archila. “Not everyone has to believe the same things.” Read the entire article here.