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Anti-gay blackmailers demand protection money from gay marriage supporters

by Nick Cargo

Pay up or else, marriage equality foes have written to several businesses who have made donations towards the defeat of California's constitutional gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.

"This letter is so blunt, so demanding, that at first, a Yes on 8 campaign spokesperson told me it's a scam," said KFMB reporter Steve Price. "And then, she called me back later today and said, nope. This letter is real."

"This outrageous attempt to raise money by using threats," EQCA executive director Geoff Kors said, "reveals their true agenda: to harm the LGBT community, our organizations, our allies and our supporters, permanently."

San Diego businessman and Equality California board member Jim Abbott, whose firm recently donated $10,000 to EQCA's No on 8 campaign, received one of the letters from ProtectMarriage.com, which were sent to about thirty companies. "We are sure that you would want to review the way that they are using Abbott & Associates' name, since many more of your clients support traditional marriage than support same-sex marriage," it reads. "We respectfully request that Abbott & Associates withdraw its support of Equality California. Make a donation of a like amount to ProtectMarriage.com which will help us correct this error and restore Traditional Marriage."

"Were you to elect not to donate comparably," they threaten, "it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage...The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published. It is only fair for Proposition 8 supporters to know which companies and organizations oppose traditional marriage."

"Well, the Mafia used to run a racket like this," Abbott said. "It was a little distressing, but it's consistent with how the 'yes' side of this campaign has been run, which is a bit over the top." At least 25% of Abbott's staff is gay, he said, and "we wanted to support their freedom to marry." Abbott himself married his husband in August. "We're not caving," he added. "We're going to support our employees. We're going to support the freedom to marry. We think that's a fundamental right."

Other large donors who received letters from ProtectMarriage.com include Time Warner, Comcast, PG&E, Levi Strauss and AT&T.

The accompanying video report was broadcast on KFMB News 8 on October 23, 2008. Following the video is an embedded copy of the letter as received by Abbott & Associates.

With wire reports









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Originally published on Friday October 24, 2008.


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