There is quite a debate in the blogosphere about boycotting AALS events next January at the Manchester Grand Hyatt because the owner of that hotel has donated money in support of Proposition 8, which would add a ban on same-sex marriage to the California Constitution. (Paul Caron at Tax Prof has collected links to a number of the posts and pieces on the boycott.) While I certainly oppose Mr. Manchester’s views and have sympathy for those intending to boycott, I am not convinced that a boycott of the hotel is the best way of going about showing my disagreement with Mr. Manchester’s support of Proposition 8.
Months ago, I committed to participate in the AALS Tax Section’s panel this coming January and to participate in the tax break-out session of the AALS Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’s full-day program on sexual orientation and gender identity across the curriculum. I plan to honor both of those commitments. If it turns out that I will be speaking in the Manchester Grand Hyatt, so much the better. It seems quite appropriate to have a full day of programs on sexual orientation and gender identity issues at Mr. Manchester’s hotel to help draw attention to the ways in which his views adversely impact the LGBT community. The section simply could not have picked a better place to highlight the importance of its full-day program.
Moreover, on the tax panel, I will be presenting a paper that I have been working on that argues that the federal and state defense of marriage acts (including the one that Mr. Manchester supports) are a tax on lesbian and gay families. As a tax, I argue that the DOMAs are subject to challenge under constitutional restrictions on the taxing power and, where those challenges are unavailable or unavailing, provide same-sex couples grounds for arguing that a robust notion of tax equity requires that the tax imposed by the DOMAs must be taken into account in determining the justness of the overall tax burden.
To my mind, participating in such events at the Manchester Grand Hyatt is a better way of expressing disagreement with—and, in keeping with our role as legal educators, of educating others about the effects of—Mr. Manchester’s views than boycotting his hotel.