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Gay-rights, labor leaders call on Clinton to cancel speech

The former president plans to give an address at a San Diego hotel whose developer backed Proposition 8, the measure approved by California voters that bans same-sex marriage.

February 13, 2009|Tony Perry

SAN DIEGO — Gay-rights and labor leaders Thursday called on former President Clinton to cancel his speech Sunday at a San Diego hotel developed by a major supporter of Proposition 8, the measure to ban gay marriage endorsed by voters in November.

Clinton is set to speak to the annual convention of the International Franchise Assn. at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Douglas Manchester contributed $125,000 to Proposition 8 forces.

During the campaign, Clinton opposed the measure and recorded a telephone message calling it unfair and wrong.

Opponents of the measure have led a boycott of Manchester's hotel, which has been the site of numerous political events in the past. The San Diego Business Journal estimated that the boycott has cost the hotel more than $2 million.

Boycott supporters say the American Assn. of Law Schools, the California Nurses Assn. and the International Foundation of Employee Benefits have canceled events at the hotel. But the California State Bar's annual convention is still scheduled to be held there.

"Public officials must lead by example," San Diego Councilman Todd Gloria said. "I hope President Clinton respects the importance of this issue and moves his speech."

A protest rally is planned outside the hotel Sunday afternoon.

Labor leaders also allege that the hotel overworks its housekeepers and provides no job security -- allegations that hotel officials deny.

Clinton's spokesman told the Associated Press that, while the former president sticks by his views about gay rights, he plans to honor his commitment to give the speech.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

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