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A Toast to Open Debate

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

I propose a toast. Let me tell you why, and to whom. Here in San Diego, gay rights activists are organizing a boycott against the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, an elegant downtown hotel with magnificent views of the San Diego Bay, Coronado Island, and the Pacific Ocean beyond. Why? Because its owner, Douglas Manchester, has the audacity to support the radical notion that marriage is between a man and a woman. On a local talk radio show, gay activists describe him and anyone else with these views as hateful.

Douglas Manchester is the Chairman of the Manchester Financial Group, which acquires, develops, and manages high profile properties throughout the United States. "Papa Doug" Manchester and his wife Betsy are devoted supporters of causes that address the health and well-being of children, especially here in San Diego. Besides supporting the University of San Diego, San Diego State University, and Cathedral Catholic High School, the Manchesters are significant contributors to the County’s Child Abuse Prevention Foundation, Polinsky Children’s Center, and San Diego Diocesan Ministries. Their generosity has extended to the YMCA, Southern California Boys & Girls Clubs, Scripps Memorial Hospital, and The Burnham Institute.

So why are the gay rights radicals in an uproar? Douglas Manchester gave money to get the California Marriage Amendment on the ballot. This dastardly amendment states: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” According to boycott organizer Fred Karcher, boycotting Manchester is justified because, “This is someone who is giving an exorbitant amount of money to write discrimination into the constitution for the very first time.”

The big meanie. What was he thinking?

Maybe he was thinking that four judges in San Francisco have no right to redefine marriage for the entire state of California. Maybe he is concerned that grade school children will be taught about homosexuality. Maybe he has the extremist idea that this is a topic for parents to teach their kids, in accordance with their own values, and their child’s maturity level.

Maybe he thinks marriage has something to do with children. Not every married couple has children; that’s true. But every child has parents. And every child has a legitimate interest in having a relationship with his own mother and father, an interest no child can possibly defend on his own. Adult society must protect children’s entitlement to bonding and connection with their parents. Marriage is the social institution that does this job.

Sometimes, unfortunately, children do not get to have a relationship with both parents, due to death or divorce. But everyone recognizes these situations as regrettable tragedies. Now, for the very first time since the Babylonian Empire, a government has declared that it has no responsibility to support the child’s right to affiliation with both parents. The Supreme Court of California says that adults have the constitutional right to make a lifetime plan that a child shall never have a relationship with one of his genetic parents. Maybe Douglas Manchester has a problem with that.

In other words, maybe Douglas Manchester shares the views of most of the people of California. The gay rights activists think it is just fine that the Supreme Court of California has run rough-shod over the views of ordinary people. Douglas Manchester, in conjunction with others on the Protect Marriage campaign, has offered the public the opportunity to vote on the subject, an opportunity stripped away from them by four San Francisco judges.

For many of us, gay marriage isn’t a referendum on gay people. It is about the meaning of marriage. Advocates of marriage as a union of a man and a woman do not hate gay people. Rather, the millions of Americans who pull the lever in favor of marriage are saying children need a mother and father. The gay community is boycotting the Manchester Grand Hyatt, because Douglas Manchester has given the people of California the opportunity to express what they believe.

As for me, I believe I’ll have a drink at the Top of the Hyatt. When you visit San Diego, as millions of people do, I hope you will go to the Top of the Hyatt too. You can take in the gorgeous views, and raise a glass to Douglas Manchester.

We can toast him again when we vote in November.

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