Do gay boycotts cost more than they gain?

BeverlyHillsHotelAs a gay man, I have a complicated relationship with boycotts. Sometimes, protesting a business is exactly what brings more attention to the business anyway. Remember the right-wingers who defiantly went to Chik-Fil-A specifically to endorse management’s anti-gay stance? And what of conservative groups that boycotted Walt Disney World for decades, objecting to it allowing “Gay Day” to take place there (even though it was not officially sponsored by the company)? Even they eventually gave up, admitting it has no effect.

So I have mixed feelings about a boycott going on in Hollywood right now at the Beverly Hills Hotel (reported in Variety). The iconic hotel, famed for its Polo Lounge restaurant and celebrity-watching opportunities (as well as where Lucy and Ethel like to go on I Love Lucy), is owned by a company based on Brunei, a Muslim country. The sultan of Brunei has recently stated he will apply sharia (strict Islamic) law to companies in his country, including the owner of the hotel. Sharia law doesn’t treat gays or women very well, and so the Human Rights Campaign and other gay rights groups initiated a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel about a month ago.

In some ways, the boycott has been successful, decreasing attendance at the hotel. But from a practical standpoint, what that really means is, valets, waiters, bus boys and bell hops are losing out. American workers. And let’s face it — a lot of them are gay.

Is it likely that boycotting one hotel will force a political change in an island-nation half a world away for a policy that, as of today, has not even gone into effect? What if it is successful and the Beverly Hills Hotel shuts down? Will that benefit anyone? Or what if the Brunei company sells it … say, to the Mormon church? Will you boycott it still? In fact, how much do you know about any of the owners of the hotels you’ve stayed in?

I don’t claim to have an answer. But I think the consequences of a boycott are something everyone should consider in detail before jumping on the bandwagon.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

10th Circuit Court rules Oklahoma ban on Sharia Law unconstitutional

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has declared Oklahoma’s ban on Sharia Law unconstitutional.

In November, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange threw out the state constitutional amendment.

Today, that ruling was upheld on appeal.

In Nov. 2010, voters approved a constitutional amendment banning Sharia Law in Oklahoma. The appeals court noted that even supporters of the amendment couldn’t find even a single example of Sharia Law being used or even cited in any court case or legislation.

In its decision, the court agreed that the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause. They said the law’s aim was to single out Muslims for discrimination and had no basis in reality. They did stop short of calling voters in Oklahoma dumbasses.

The judges wrote:

“Given the lack of evidence of any concrete problem, any harm Appellants seek to remedy with the proposed amendment is speculative at best and cannot support a compelling interest.”

In defending the law, Oklahoma lawmakers who proposed the amendment and attorneys defending it in court called it a defensive move. They see Sharia Law as discriminatory and allowing practices such as marital rape.

Rape, however, is already illegal in Oklahoma under civil law.

And what is interesting is that Oklahomans who see Sharia Law as infringing on civil rights have no interest in protecting the civil rights of their LGBT neighbors — who are treated extremely harshly under Sharia Law, incidentally. Just this week, lawmakers introduced discriminatory legislation to reinstitute “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the Oklahoma National Guard.

And by the way included in Sharia Law are the 10 Commandments, so in banning Sharia Law, the dumbasses who voted for this law were also banning the 10 Commandments.

—  David Taffet

Ban on Sharia law in Okla. ruled unconstitutional

Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange

A federal judge stopped short of declaring Oklahoma voters a bunch of dumbasses, but she did rule that their attempt to outlaw Sharia law is unconstitutional, according to the Daily Oklahoman.

U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a 15-page ruling throwing out the state constitutional amendment. On Nov. 2, Oklahoma voters approved the amendment that would have prohibited state courts from considering or using Sharia law despite the fact that state courts had never used – nor had plans to use — Sharia law. The constitutional amendment passed with more than 70 percent of the vote.

Sharia is Islamic law based on the Quran and the teachings of Muhammed. It includes the Ten Commandments — so the amendment effectively made the Ten Commandments illegal in Oklahoma.

Miles-LaGrange wrote in her opinion, “This order addresses issues that go to the very foundation of our country, our Constitution, and particularly, the Bill of Rights.”

Supporters of the law said it was a defense against such practices as marital rape. However, state laws already make such practices  illegal.

Muneer Awad, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, filed suit against the amendment claiming it violated his freedom of religion.

The judge ruled that he had standing in the case and that he would have suffered injury to his First Amendment rights. Awad lives in Oklahoma, is a Muslim and “the amendment conveys an official government message of disapproval and hostility toward his religious beliefs, that sends a clear message he is an outsider, not a full member of the political community, thereby chilling his access to the government and forcing him to curtail his political and religious activities.”

Republican State Rep. Rex Duncan was the author of the amendment. He said it wasn’t intended to attack Muslims but rather was a “pre-emptive strike.”

Aren’t pre-emptive strikes usually attacks?

And wasn’t the only terrorist attack that has taken place in Oklahoma — the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building — carried out by a couple of Christian guys?

—  David Taffet