Calif. Stonewall Dems Group End Garff Boycott

On April 30, leaders of the Coachella Valley, Calif.-based Desert Stonewall Democrats announced that they would no longer boycott a Utah-based auto dealer over a family member’s donation to Proposition 8.

“We’re not condemning the boycott per se,” Desert Stonewall Democrats chairman George Zander told the Desert Sun, a newspaper based in Palm Springs. “We just don’t want to be in a position of leadership in the boycott.”

The group initially called for the boycott in March, after learning that Ken Garff Automotive Group matriarch Katharine Garff had donated $100,000 to a campaign in favor of Proposition 8. On Nov. 4, 2008 California voters narrowly passed the ballot measure re-banning gay marriage in the state. News of Mrs. Garff’s donation also led Fred Karger, founder of anti-Prop. 8 group Californians Against Hate to call for a boycott.

Karger, however, called off his boycott in February after meeting with company CEO John Garff and gay Utah philanthropist Bruce Bastian. During that discussion, Garff told the Salt Lake Tribune that he said the donation reflected his mother Katherine Garff’s opinion, and not company policy. Katherine Garff, he added, did not own any of the dealerships.

Bastian also noted that the group was in the process of drafting a “non-discrimination company policy.”

The Desert Stonewall Democrats’ boycott targeted four Garff dealerships in Cathedral City and La Quinta.

John Garff told the Desert Sun that the boycott had ended because of “good dialogue” with the leaders of the pro-gay organization.

“Honestly, it’s just a better understanding of issues on both sides,” he said.

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