Steve Lopez’s sympathy for El Coyote

In today’s LA Times, Steve Lopez claims he won’t take back any of what he wrote on Sunday about the ongoing El Coyote restaurant boycott being unfair to the employees of owner/manager/Yes on Prop 8-donor Margie Christoffersen, but there is a whiff of back pedaling as he recounts several of the emails he received from readers who disagreed with him.

(An aside: When the story broke last month, Christoffersen was identified as “the owner,” then “an owner,” then “a manager-owner” and now she is identified as “a manager.” Do I smell an attempt at damage control?)

In his column on Sunday, Lopez wrote of the distress (actually he said “blubbering”)  that came forth from Christoffersen when they recently met at a diner at the Farmer’s Market; business at El Coyote has dropped off by 30% since the boycott began. Lopez also quotes employees who support her, opposed Prop 8 and extoll the virtues of living in a free society. I assume that includes the right to boycott, or to patronize businesses that you please or that please you.

Christoffersen’s husband tells Lopez “she will never, ever be back here on a Thursday night,” which was the restaurant’s big gay night for years, so I guess that means she’s boycotting her own restaurant too.

Of course I don’t think Lopez is a bigot, like many emails accused him of being after the Sunday column. I imagine if you had me clutching hands across the table with a distressed, sobbing woman known for her cheery, embracing demeanor in a lighter setting it would put a layer of humanity on a political blitzkreig raging around you.

What I find objectionable about Lopez’s take on all of this is the twisted logic he seems to be applying here. He seems to be saying gays boycotting El Coyote is unfair to its employees who may lose their jobs as a result. He foists the responsibility for their well being from Christoffersen onto the backs of gays, which is ridiculous.

Christoffersen should have thought about the possible fall-out of her actions and what they really meant: The Mormon  church was telling her to deprive the right to marry to gays in the name of “god.” No matter that  she made money off of them, no matter that she “loved them like everybody else.” I wonder if she would have made the donation if she knew her name would be on a public record saying she had.

Lopez is one of the (remaining) best columnists at LAT and I’m usually on his side but not when it comes to the El Coyote boycott. Still, I want to give him a big, wet, sloppy gay kiss for his open disdain for organized religion and the maliciously corroding effects it unleashes on society.

In the long run, the fortunes of a restaurant popular with gays on Thursdays are not what’s at stake here. It’s about mutual respect being a two-way street and woe to those who get caught trying to have it both ways.

9 Replies to “Steve Lopez’s sympathy for El Coyote”

  1. I’d like to point out that my following comment is made based solely on info I get from here and a couple My Space friends, so bear with me……

    First I’d like to point out that I’m a large supporter of gay marriage. Read any of my posts around election time and you’ll know that to be true. However, I can’t help but feel sorry for Margie. Now, she contributed to Yes on 8 and SHAME on her for that! I agree with the boycott on those grounds. But (this is where my assumptions come in) it seems she’s sorry for what she did. I understand there are horrible and/or uninformed people out there that still feel homosexual marriage is wrong, but she appears to be genuinely sorry. To me, the continuous boycotting and protesting of the restaurant is going against what I feel to be more important, which is changing peoples’ ideas of what is right and wrong.

    I have more than a few friends that voted or were going to vote Yes on 8. The few that were going to vote Yes ended up voting No because I spoke with them about their views and they were misinformed. Isn’t it possible Margie was misinformed, and has now changed her view on the subject? And if that’s true, is it right to continue to punish someone who is trying to make amends??

    Sorry this is so long, but this issue has been bothering me. If I’m the one who is misinformed and she still rejects gay marriage, tell me and I won’t feel so bad. But if I’m correct, maybe it’s time to let it go before she turns bitter and hates it all over again.

  2. Margie was asked after this happened if she would now be willing to make a similar donation to the effort to overturn Prop 8 and she declined. That sums it up for me. She has not changed her mind, she is as opposed to the right to marry as before. The difference is that now the people she hoped to deny rights to have decided to deny her the ability to make money off of them.

  3. The depressing part of this is that we’re still talking about El Coyote. Prop 8 didn’t pass because of Margie Christoffersen. I support people’s right to boycott whomever they want. But isn’t it sad that the public face of the anti-prop-8 backlash in LA is El Coyote? Doesn’t that make everyone seem smaller?

  4. One thing that bothered me also was that people opposed to Prop 8 were
    blamed for all the negative reviews online (various sites) for the restaurant. I’ve never eaten there but the bad reviews for the place go WAY back before Prop 8 and I think my choice (in addition to the support for Prop 8) would be based on responsible online reviews. Yes there were people who trashed the restaurant online in putting down Ms Christoffersen but I know there’s time I will go to a place because the friends I’m with prefer it…(even when I don’t like it) so for some, the Prop 8 support is the last nail in the coffin…it’s the Prop 8 support AND the poor food (according to many reviews).
    We all have places we go to that may not be the best, but they’re favorites for other reasons, or we think about going just to see why it’s a favorite with some people. El Coyote is not on those lists anymore.

  5. I have zero sympathy for this woman:
    “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…http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-lopez14-2008dec14,0,5995847.column

    Well, she must have lived a charmed existence before she wrote that $100 check!

    I do feel badly for the employees of El Coyote who had nothing to do with Christoffersen’s misguided decision to follow the Mormon Church’s edict.

    18,000 relationships are in limbo, and I may not be able to marry my partner in my lifetime because of people who think they have the corner on morality, people who manage to gather throwin’ stones while living in glass houses. For the thousands of people who rushed to marry the loves of their lives this summer, THIS ripping away of dignity and legitimacy is the worst thing that has happened to them.

  6. If Christofferson seems sorry, it’s not that she’s sorry for her actions and has reconsidered. It’s that she’s sorry she is now experiencing the repercussions from her actions. Given the opportunity to reverse (or at least offset) her support of Prop 8, she said she would not. She claims to love and respect everyone in the gay community, but that love and respect clearly does not extend to thinking of them as equals and allowing for their happiness.

    That being said, I have to agree with Oren. With so many bigger things to worry about with this issue, why are we (and the L.A. Times, et al) still focused on Margie Christofferson and her comparatively minuscule $100 donation?

  7. i am thinking locally, that’s why el coyote’s situation still holds my attention.

    a good friend of mine at work told me on election eve that he would be voting in favor of 8, because his bond with Christ compelled him to. (also he didn’t agree with my lifestyle, whatever the hell that means.) he is no longer my friend.

    people who did frequent el coyote, and a lot of gays did, spent good money there for years and years. if they take offense at Ms Christofferson’s support of the initiative, no matter how big or small, they have every right to stop giving that establishment their business. hopefully, the poor employees who had nothing to do with her contribution can convince the once-loyal customers that the place is worth going back to, because her pouting isn’t helping the cause any.

    i guess i am interested in seeing how these personal relationships flesh out here in LA, and if reasonable protest can win over converts.

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