Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Trump En Route To Vegas As GLBT Ire Heightens

Last week, I reported for AOL News/HuffPo about growing anger at mogul Donald Trump on account of his recent spate of polarizing political statements. Among other things, he reversed his 2000 position favoring "a very strong domestic-partnership law" by telling the Des Moines newspaper he now opposes any legal recognition for same-sex couples.

Trump, fresh off of getting Obama to release his birth certificate today, is enjoying all the attention even as he fails to see how deftly the White House is using him to paint the entire GOP as nutcases. And he probably figures that all his blather in the past has only enhanced his prominence, so whatever!

The difference: Other politicians who take controversial stands on social issues can do so with less peril because their business is politics. Trump's business, however, is hospitality, and these remarks can and will resound when people choose a hotel. Today, my latest Las Vegas Weekly column examines that as well as why other proudly Republican CEOs in Vegas -- Murren, Wynn and Adelson, specifically -- don't get tarred for their politics in the same way.

But wait, there's more!

Today I'm learning of new fallout for the Trump Las Vegas. In addition to GLAAD listing all Trump properties as places for people to avoid and the IGLTA taking up the question of whether to boot Trump properties at their May board meeting, now the Human Rights Campaign, the federal GLBT lobby organization, is instructing its local members to refuse or return donations or gifts from Trump properties.

James Healey, the HRC Las Vegas guru, said today they have turned down an item offered for auction by Trump Las Vegas for HRC's big dinner fundraiser on May 7 at Aria. Healey explained via email the item was declined Monday after Healey checked with his Washington D.C. contacts who suggested they do so.

Healey told me via email: "This is a national policy that the local community [may] choose to support." He chose to.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas' GLBT activist community is jumping in, too. The Stonewall Democrats, a group of gay activists who managed somehow to get Sen. John Ensign, R-HisZipper, to support the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, put out a statement urging "those who believe in equal rights for all U.S. citizens [to] avoid the Trump 'Brand' in all of its various permutations. This would include his television shows and hotel properties amongst other ventures bearing the Trump name."

Stonewall chairman Derek Washington went on:

At some point, people like Trump have to learn that we LGBT Americans will no longer be used as cannon fodder to be sacrificed to the political ambitions of those who use bigotry to garner votes. We have money, and that money can be spent where it is appreciated. Caesars, Wynn and MGM are all places where our LGBT dollars are welcome and our business is encouraged. We have options.

Just to be clear, I am not endorsing this boycott. I am observing it. I've never personally believed boycotts are effective for either side of the political debate. But I do know that when a company gets tarnished as intolerant, it is extremely difficult to overcome or reverse. And in Las Vegas, where there are so many choices at so many price-points, that can absolutely make a already-flailing enterprise flail even more.

What will be interesting is if the Trump corporation finds itself having to publicly distance itself from the blabbermouth himself in order to reduce the long-term fallout. There's precedent for that; Coors did it in 2004 when Pete Coors ran for U.S. Senate in Colorado.

Oh, by the way, guess who's addressing a set of women's Republican groups at the Treasure Island on the Strip tomorrow night?


Thomas said...

To be honest, I have no desire to stay at any Trump property either in LV or Atlantic City. This douche baggery just makes it easier for me to avoid any commerce with the Trump brand.