Ken Garff Automotive Boycott Ends

Gay-rights group drops boycott against Garff

Bruce Bastian helped negotiate a deal.

By Tony Semerad
The Salt Lake Tribune

02/27/2009 03:59:02 PM MST

A California gay-rights group announced Friday it is formally ending a boycott of one of Utah’s most high-profile car dealerships.

Californians Against Hate had called for a boycott of Ken Garff Automotive Group’s 53 dealerships in six states in retaliation for a $100,000 donation made by Garff family matriarch Katharine Garff in support of Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban, part of a total of $3.8 million donated for and against Prop 8 by Utahns.

The same-sex-marriage ban is now being challenged in Calfornia Supreme Court.
Fred Karger, director of Californians Against Hate, said Friday the two-week boycott of Ken Garff Automotive Group was being called off immediately, following a series of meetings that included face-to-face discussions between company principals John and Robert Garff and Utah philanthropist Bruce Bastian, a leading gay-rights advocate.

“We’re just ecstatic,” said Karger, who said his group was moving swiftly to take down a Web site and other Internet presences associated with the boycott. “It’s a wonderful situation … a happy ending.”

Said Bastian: “We were able to discuss this openly and honestly with the Garffs and reach an understanding. I think they understand now why this was upsetting and hurtful to many people.”
The former Word Perfect executive said, among other steps, the Garff company would be formally adopting “a non-discriminatory company policy, even though they are pretty much there already.”
Bastian declined to outline any other conditions of the settlement.

John Garff, the company’s CEO, has insisted that his mother’s $100,000 donation was a personal gesture and in no way reflected the company’s political stance.

He declined to comment further Friday, except to say, “I believe we all came away from those meetings with a greater level of mutual respect and understanding.”

9 thoughts on “Ken Garff Automotive Boycott Ends

  1. I’m not convinced…they throw in a ton of money to pass a law that denigrates gay folks and strips away our civil rights. You call for a boycott asking that and fair-minded people everywhere not allow their dollars go toward paying off those bigots. They start to sweat because they realize their bottom is being affected…so you have a lil’ chat, announce victory, and call off the boycott?

    Am I missing something?

    What exactly did you get in exchange? A promise to adopt a non-discrimination policy at their dealerships? What does it mean to “pretty much already” have a non-discrimination policy anyway? Did you share a hearty chuckle at that nutty ol’ battle-axe Mom and her whimsical $100,000 “personal gestures”?

    How about a matching donation to an AIDS charity or to organizations that now must fight to defeat this monster he and his family helped to create. How about a wad of cash to support a GLBT youth center in his city?

    “We promise not to fire any fags we find working at our dealerships. I mean, we already *pretty much* don’t fire ’em when we find em now.”

    That’s what you got? That’s not penance. That’s not setting things right. That’s lip service.

    You had an “open and honest” discussion…pointing out that gays are human beings capable of complex thought and feeling, and deserving of the same civil rights they have…and you think they “understand now why this was upsetting and hurtful to many people.”

    What are they…5 year olds? Did you teach them to put their underpants on first and to look both ways before crossing the street?

    Unless the boycott extracted more than a “I had no idea” and a “my bad” from these folks, then I don’t see why you’re calling it off. This isn’t summer camp – we’re not sitting around campfire singing Kumbaya. This is war – and they started it.

    Money talks, bullsh*t walks. They need to put their money where their mouths are. Unless there’s more to this deal, it sounds to me like you just took a hike.

  2. “Bastian declined to outline any other conditions of the settlement.”

    Why decline? Are you afraid we would know you took a powder?

    I think gotommy was right when he suggested a donation to a GLBT organization as a good faith gesture.

    I thought the idea of a boycott was to financially effect the dealership. Did that happen or are they just afraid of the bad PR and pretended to make nice to appease us homos?

  3. Unless there is more to the story — and more substance to the “apology” — than presented, I’m afraid I have to agree with both of the foregoing comments.


  4. I was liking your comment, gotommy, until I got to the part where you edited yourself in using the word, bullshit. If you’re afraid of a word, how do you expect people to consider your commentary as genuine?

    That said or wrote, I don’t know Mr. Karger, personally. Given that he was the one who initiated the boycott, I will accept that he is satisfied with the ending result and congratulate him for a job well done.

  5. This stinks.

    The reasons provided are not sufficient for ending the boycott. Agreeing to comply with the sound HR policies most fortune 500 companies have in force, hardly makes up for $100,000 to hurt our families.

    Mr. Karger, your reputation is on the line here. Either the boycott was as trivial as the published conditions for ending it are, or something is wrong.

    If the boycott was so trivial a matter that these minor changes justify calling it off, then no one should take future calls for boycotts by CAH seriously.

    I called Toyota, I called the Garff owned dealership I’d been a customer at for years, telling them I would not be a customer anymore. Now, with nothing substantial, I’m supposed to forget $100,000 to hurt my family?

    Don’t pull a Geof Kors – no secrets, no closets.

  6. 2 days later, and still no details.

    Not good. That’s a good way to become irrelevant.

  7. Huh? A nondiscrimination policy? They’re already pretty much there? I can’t disagree with anything gotommy said above.

  8. Did someone just suggest that I’m a lurker or a plant, or that my comment is somehow fake or disingenuous because I substituted “bullsh*t” for “bullshit?”

    Way to stay focused on the issue, Nelson G.

    PS. Dunno how much you post to boards and the like, but “dirty words” are often filtered out, so I’ve made a habit out of substituting characters to avoid triggering them. Though I still don’t see how that in any way has anything to do with absolutely anything…

    And yeah – this whole thing still stinks. No more information, no updates. Just don’t smell right…

  9. One of the major problems with the No On 8 campaign was their reluctance to include gay or lesbian families in their ads, even say the words.

    “Lurker or plant” are your words, not mine.

    Nonetheless, I would also appreciate if Mr. Karger would respond to the concerns being posted here, so to clarify any misinterpretations or misperceptions about the boycott itself.

Comments are closed.