Video: El Coyote owner begs gays to keep spending money at her restaurant

Here’s video of a tearful, stammering Marjorie Chrisofferson, one of El Coyote’s owners who donated $100 to the campaign to pass Prop 8, apologizing for the donation and pleading with gays “to understand” and not boycott her business at a meeting held yesterday at the restaurant.

In the second video, another owner says Chrisofferson “would take back” the donation if she could. Things unravel when Chrisofferson, flanked by her daughters, is asked if she would make a donation to the effort to repeal Prop 8, as an “ovation to the gay community.” Shouting erupts as her daughters lead her out of the room.



25 thoughts on “Video: El Coyote owner begs gays to keep spending money at her restaurant”

  1. gosh. I am not sure if my opinion will be unpopular or not, but while I don’t agree with her decision, I feel it’s wrong to put this woman on the spot so excruciatingly. Clearly she voted the way she felt was right, and she must feel pretty strongly about it, since even under pressure she felt she couldn’t, in her conscience, change her decision. While I vehemently oppose prop 8, I have to admire this woman for not lying to all your faces despite her obvious distress.

    the yes on 8 campaign played upon the feelings & invoked the faith of many people. it was manipulative, causing people to think their children were in “danger” or that the integrity of their religious institutions would be threatened. it seems to me that she is one of these people who made their choice based on false information & fear. even though I believer her decision was incorrect, and based on faulty reasoning, doesn’t mean she’s not entitled to vote & donate as she sees fit. This video seems very intimidating. I’m surprised she even held the conference at all.

    I am concerned our cause is becoming bogged down in finger-pointing and witch-hunt-style bullying/”example making.” I wholeheartedly support the picketing of religious institutions that donated money, because it violates the precept of the division of church & state, & seeks to infiltrate basic civil rights with privately held religious faith. But going after individuals in this very personal, very nasty style seems like bullying, and I don’t think it’s appropriate. It certainly won’t change anyone’s mind if they voted yes on 8: this will only justify their fears.

    I think that (regrettably) this civil rights movement will take more time than we want it to. The process of changing people’s minds, especially in regards to such charged subjects as faith & sexuality, is a slow one, and will never come about as a result of aggression. Outreach, communication, compassion & understanding will advance this cause. I don’t think excoriating individuals will.

  2. Holy crap, this is getting HUGE. L.A. Times has an article about it today. It mentions El Coyote, and reports that some business owners in CA and elsewhere gave tens of thousands of dollars to Yes on 8.

    Coinciding ironically with the election of a bi-racial President, this is going to be the civil rights issue of our time, and we’re right here in the middle of it, at Ground Zero. A great opportunity for Metblogs btw.

    Maybe an even bigger issue is, why do people like Marjorie and millions of other Americans lose their minds and do what they know is wrong when their church asks them or tells them to? Marjorie never did explain why, if she loves the gay so much, she sent that $100 contribution, other than that the church requested it. How pathetic.

  3. Luce, I wrote my comment before yours published, so I want to address yours. I think boycotting businesses, or threatening to boycott them if their owners don’t make amends somehow, is a legitimate and effective method of trying to change behavior, and, at minimum, ensures that people don’t steer their dollars toward other people who would take their money and then stab them in the back. It is precisely what Martin Luther King, Jr. organized the civil rights protesters to do some 45 years ago.

    Yes, it was Marjorie’s personal choice to make that contribution. And it’s our personal choice where we spend our money. You make a choice, it can have consequences. She has the right to contribute to whatever she wants to, and so do we. To quote Fred Friendly, there’s a difference between what you have the right to do, and what’s right to do. If I was gay or wanted a same-sex marriage, I would be absolutely batshit at the prospect that the owner of a business that I had supported would take some of my money and donate it to a cause that seeks (and succeeded) to take away rights that I have already been given and that everyone else has.

    Protesting the churches that sought Marjorie’s and others’ contributions is a great idea too, but it’s not either-or. Since appealing to people’s reason or their hearts obviously wasn’t effective enough, appealing to their wallets is a sound principle. As for whom to target, I don’t know why El Coyote was singled out given the relatively small contribution, and perhaps people should begin by targeting those who gave much larger ones, but again, it’s not either-or, and hundred-dollar contributors should also be held accountable for their actions.

  4. If I was gay or wanted a same-sex marriage, I would be absolutely batshit at the prospect that the owner of a business that I had supported would take some of my money and donate it to a cause that seeks (and succeeded) to take away rights that I have already been given and that everyone else has.

    That’s a really good point, and I agree that we have the right to boycott. Maybe I’m softhearted and cringing unnecessarily at seeing this woman so distressed.

    I also know that the civil rights movement in the 60s would not have made the advances it made as quickly as it made them, had it simply waited around passively for people’s minds to change. I also doubt that a truly bigoted person’s mind CAN change, much; for me to argue we sit around “reaching out with compassion” like fricken’ Gandhi while citizens are discriminated against may not be the best course of action.

    It’s a tough question, figuring out the most effective & appropriate way to tackle the demand for civil rights.

    As a side issue, I find myself wondering how we’d react if in, say, San Bernadino County, in a heavily “yes on 8” neighborhood, we found that no on 8 people had tracked down the yes on 8 voters & were staging events like this one–but instead targeting gay rights activists. and I also wonder if this will make people, in general, less willing to donate money to causes they believe in, if their unpopular opinion can be so publicly damned. “Good!” we might say in the case of yes on 8 voters; but would we be so quick to celebrate if it were turned against us & we were publicly humiliated because we donated money to the Dems in a passionately “red” neighborhood?

    Of course I know how important it is to keep political donations in the public domain, but I guess I’m just wondering about whether focusing on individuals, and not the greater cause, is us losing focus.

    OTOH I have a terrible habit of always feeling softhearted towards the underdog, regardless of the greater stuggle that might be happening. I felt sad for McCain during his concession speech even though you couldn’t have paid me any amount of money to vote Republican. :P

  5. I don’t want to argue or anything – but I just have to make one point. Calling a boycott of El Coyote and the Montgomery Bus Boycott are not precisely the same thing and I’m not aware of anyone else being called out as part of a boycott… Yes, I heard about El Pollo Loco, but there are a lot of additional reasons not to go eat fast food and I bet every fast food chain has at least a few human or animal rights issues bad enough for just about everyone to not want to spend their money there if they only knew.

    I’m gonna venture out on a limb here and take a guess as to why El Coyote was singled out (and I totally could be wrong) – because it was convenient for whomever singled them out.

    I see a lot of anger over Prop8 (an it’s mostly justified) – but not much focus or concentrated strategy. Every march or boycott MLK and the civil rights movement carried out had a target, a purpose and a specific point to make – something I don’t see much of in the past week’s demonstrations and in this El Coyote thing.

    I won’t say anything more about it than this – hearing the references made to Montgomery, or Selma or the Japanese internments is really using a giant brush – which actually offends some people no matter how sympathetic they might otherwise be – this should be considered as another vote to repeal will require more votes than were turned out on November 4th for a positive outcome.

  6. You know what I think was wrong and really unfair. How the black community was demonized and we were called the n-word on mainstream blogs before and after the election though we are 6.7% of the California population owing to a number that was a
    freakin lie.
    And then after the truth came out all of those people who said, “Well it wouldn’t have been a problem if it was in the 50s like everyone else,” read about that lie and instead of saying sorry just sort of slides pass that issue and stops talking about it.

    I won’t forget the many bloggers who never brought up African-Americans (or ethnic people at all except to say something negative) except for this issue to demonize us, but then forgot to post up the real numbers.

    I will also never forget the people who didn’t say a freakin word.

    This woman made an individual choice to do a messed up thing, why stand up for her? Black people, all of us got painted with this homophobic brush even if we individually didn’t do anything. If you’re (and I’m not meaning you Lucinda, but everyone who is now saying this is unreasonable, I think the 20 articles in the LA Times about black people’s homophobia and the three times within three days that Kevin Roderick mentioned it and all the nasty names we were called and completely unchallenged on this blog except by Salty, Chimalti and the usual suspects was unreasonable) going to stand up against something you should stand up against that. I’m of African descent and I didn’t do shit. I didn’t vote for anything in regards to taking away anyone’s rights. I’m not homophobic. I go out of my way, BUT what if I did. Wow if I were a rich white person people who had their heads on tight would think that I was being unfairly targeted.

    That must be nice. To be able to be a complete jerk and not have your racial community slammed. And get people defending you, because its mean to have people to hate you because of a choice.

    Not so mean I guess to call all black people homophobic (or to let it go on under you nose and not say anything,) even though all of the us that post on blogs are pretty liberal and probably all of the black people you know on a personal basis would never vote for this law, but screw your personal knowledge, we’re black and so we must be an exception like Obama.

    I wish black people and gay people and undocumented immigrants could elicit the mainstreams press empathy when we do things wrong.

    We have a biracial President are we going to get to the point where people of African descent are people, deserving of the same compassion from forward thinking people as everyone else.

    The freakin lie.

  7. And my opinion. I do see the gay rights movement as the same as the civil right’s movement. MLK was for human rights. And if gay people want to use him they should use him, they should feel free. MLK was alot more liberal than people think. He got killed because he was moving away from just black civil rights and moving to human civil rights. His widow Coretta Scott King was a very open supporter of gay rights. She was for same sex marriage. People like taking what they like about people and using it to push their agenda and to say that MLK wasn’t about everyone is to lie about who he was.

    MLK would be happy that gay people are using him as a symbol.

    I just say this once you see how it is to have your own right’s trampled on, don’t stand by and let shit happen to other people.

    As gay rights are civil rights (referring to african americans) civil rights are chicano rights and asian rights and women’s rights and undocumented rights. We’re all connected. Anyone who lives in this country whether they are gay or straight or American born or not, regardless of gender or class, deserves the same rights.

    No one gets to be better simply because they were born here or they are straight or they are rich or they are white or they are man.

    Things that you can’t help are never things that should prevent you from having rights.

    Differences are what makes the world beautiful and interesting and no one should be penalized for being what someone else perceives as the “wrong’ king of different.


  8. I watched the video. On the second video who is the asshole who is using black stereotypes as a joke to make a point. What a jerk. To this jerk only.


    Now that’s offensive. That was offensive to me. People using MLK and comparing the black movement to the gay movement fine. Making fun of black people talking about us dancing and playing sports that is not fine.

    This is a progressive fight, people need to start acting like progressives. That was straight up Fox News.

    You would never see someone making a comment like that at a fight for undocumented immigrants or women’s rights…I think people speaking in this fight may need some up-training in regards to tolerance for minorities, because those are the kinds of comments that make people of color unhappy. It totally would never sway me to vote for oppressing you, because it’s about rights not you, but it does make me disappointed and think you don’t give a crap about anyone but yourself.

    Is this about rights or about you?

    Does anyone else find that comment offensive?

  9. the simplest way to clean this up without damaging the employee’s and El Coyote is for Marjorie Chrisofferson to sell her ownership position out to her other partners and then for El Coyote to verify that this woman or any of her holding companies are no longer affiliated with El Coyote. If I was a limited partner is this right now I would be demanding a board meeting to get her ass out and buy her position out and save my investment before its toast. If she really cares about El Coyote and its employees and her fellow investors she sell out.

  10. WTF…”this is a great opportunity for metblogs”? Did you mean opportunity as a business opp? If so that is the most vile thing I’ve seen in a while. If you meant opp as in the chance to share information on events surrounding the cause, and at times allow some of us to voice our support then yes, this is an incredible opp to help bring about some equality in civil rights.

    Browne, I don’t think anyone is blaming either the black or hispanic folks in the area for the result. I think some in their emotions over the results aren’t communicating as clearly as they could. Then there are just some who are assholes who will say anything to make a point.

    You, yourself gave a great disseration on how those folks could vote for Obama then turn around and do yes on 8. We are a predominantly Christian society and even the “white” folks who voted for Obama voted “yes on 8”. For them it is a family and faith based decision. I get it. I think a lot of others do too. I think the results might have been a little different for some if the civil rights in a historical context. But that is just my hind sight conjecture and I wasn’t involved in those decisions and plan making.

    Has anyone else paid attention to LA County and other local govts around the state denouncing the 8 results and putting motions into court to overturn it? The one argument that may have the greatest chance in prevailing is what Rocky Degadillo put forth that 8 was an amendment to the constitution that required a clear 2/3 majority to win, it did not do that and should be considered a failed proposition.

    Chal, welcome back and great post. I have to say I admire Marjorie for standing up in front of everyone trying to explain what she did. I understand it was a faith based decision, I can even respect her for that. However, we all make choices and there are consequences. For her it means lost business and standing in her immediate community.

  11. Wha??? You mean El Coyote is not owned by Mexicans? :)
    Anyways, I’ll be sure to remember these tactics next time a Prop 187 style law comes around. For me, this is my community’s civil rights issue and I’ll make sure all the folks talking about solidarity now, will be around in the future to vote and protect the civil rights of their Latino immigrant neighbors.

  12. Lucinda, you queried what would happen if “no on 8” stands were taken in a conservative area of the city?

    First hand, I can tell you. Ostracized by the community and a loss of revenue. My community went nearly 2/3 yes, I was publicly a “no person” in what I wrote here and felt both consequences. Sometimes personal gain needs to be put aside and at risk to further the human condition.

  13. If you meant opp as in the chance to share information on events surrounding the cause, and at times allow some of us to voice our support then yes, this is an incredible opp to help bring about some equality in civil rights.

    That is precisely what I meant.

  14. So is gay the new black? (sorry couldn’t resist)

    While I do understand the right to boycott whatever you want, terrorizing one lady who sent $100 off to a very bad group (yes on h8).. what’s the point? Why go after the people on the shallow end of the pool? Why not go after the Dalton Corporation who donated at least 35k, or Robert/Lu Little who donated over 18k and own an insurance company. ( source )

    I guess every little bit helps..

  15. As Aartvark said, I think this woman was singled out because it’s pretty easy to accomplish. But is it a good use of our time & energy?

    You can pressure people all you want to publicly retract their statements & make a demonstration of contrition, but will you really have changed how they feel in their heart of hearts? Not by berating someone & publicly shaming them, you won’t.

    The only way to do that is with compassion, understanding, & dialogue.

    Frankly, IMHO the yes on 8 people won because they had more money & more fear-tactic ads than we did from the start.

    I think the best way to fight for our cause isn’t by witch-hunting & stringing up the easiest small-time targets. It’s by investing time, energy, and yes, money, in PACs, in outreach, in a public information campaign, in a strong human-rights lobby in Congress, and media exposure.

    Of course that’s a lot less glamorous than raging against the machine that is El Coyote.

  16. There may be some agreement about the efficacy of singling out El Coyote, but the goal isn’t to change hearts, it’s to change behavior. Obviously, we often don’t know what lies in the hearts of people who own businesses we support, unless they do something of public record such as the Yes on 8 contributions. At that point, we have the right (some would say the responsibility) to react, again keeping in mind that it’s important to choose one’s fights and one’s targets wisely for fairness and effectiveness.

  17. I appreciate her age and sensitivity, but this is a civil rights battle and we need to put feelings aside – This is bigger than the individual.

    Also, is anyone working on a boycott of the Mormon-owned 100.3 FM (that new station in town?) – I used to love it until I learned who the owners are.

  18. boycotts is probably the single best way to change the minds of people or even to get them to listen.

    Remember when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus? That was the incident that started all black people boycotting the buses in Alabama right? That’s how things change when people realize it effects their pocket book!

  19. Okay, let me preface this quickly by saying I voted no on Prop 8, think it was completely insane and am very disheartened that it passed. But it was my right as an American to vote no on it because that’s what I believe is the right thing to do.

    I also believe that bullying this woman into going back on her vote is completely unfair and very, very troubling. She had every right to vote the way she did, just as those of us who voted against it did. If you no longer wish to support her as a political statement, that is completely your right. But pushing her to donate money to a cause she doesn’t believe in is pretty disgusting and doesn’t really prove much of anything in the end.

    I understand the importance of having local businesspeople who support the rights of their patrons, but I can’t help but think that time would be more well spent writing to congresspeople, organizing grassroots support for the overturning of the bill and spending time in other communities teaching tolerance and acceptance. This is all getting very emotional and people need to get their heads on straight if they want anything to change.

  20. Chal I’m waiting for your ironic post on the 70% of black people voting for Prop 8 which turned out to not be true. When is that coming?


  21. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: extortion

    Unlawful exaction of money or property through intimidation or undue exercise of authority. It may include threats of physical harm, criminal prosecution, or public exposure. Some forms of threat, especially those made in writing, are occasionally singled out for separate statutory treatment as blackmail.

  22. And I know we aren’t going to play this, “we weren’t racist, we were talking about everyone” on the LA blogosphere.

    Lets see we got black people “we hate you” pieces from Andrew Sullivan, Dan Savage, pretty much every mainstream blog that never ever brings up black people (accept for when we rob you) also joined in on the fun. All you have to do is google between Nov3-Nov8. And only after the No on 8 people hired a PR firm who probably told them to check themselves did the Mormons the people who initially funded this vile prop get called out. Right after the election it was all about the CNN poll that turned out to be false.

    So please spare me with the, its not about the blame game. For a week after the election it pretty much was and it was mainly a finger pointed at the African-American community.

    I have never seen the word n****r come up so much as I did after this passed and I don’t think it was meant in the n***a way.

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