Faulty Tower: Anti-LGBT Money Behind Fairmont Austin

Doug Manchester was a major donor in the fight against same-sex marriage

Faulty Tower: Anti-LGBT Money Behind Fairmont Austin

The 50-story penumbra cast by the new Fairmont Austin hotel at East Cesar Chavez and Red River will not be the only shady thing about the project. The tower is being financed by Manchester Texas Financial Group, whose founder and chairman, Doug F. Manchester, helped bankroll a far less glamorous project – California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. The partnership is an odd fit for the Canada-based luxury hotel operators, who actively court the "pink dollar" through direct promotions and membership in the Inter­na­tion­al Gay & Lesbian Travel Associa­tion. Fairmont properties are routinely listed as among the top LGBT-friendly hotels.

Manchester properties, however, are just as routinely boycotted. Following news that Manchester donated more than $100,000 to the Prop. 8 campaign, his holdings became a target for LGBT activism. In his home base of San Diego, activist group UNITE HERE Local 30 held weekly protests in front of his namesake Hyatt hotel. The protests and resultant boycott were estimated to have cost the hotel more than $2 million.

Although Manchester is no longer affiliated with that property, the local furor is still simmering, with most of the criticism focused on his purchase of The San Diego Union-Tribune. Since the purchase, the paper of record has become a mouthpiece for Man­chester's "fair and balanced" conservative views. When President Barack Obama made his support for marriage equality known last year, the U-T reported that the president had "pushe[d] [the] court to force gay marriage on all states."

Despite all the backlash, Manchester can boast of having at least one gay friend. Contrarian usual suspects GOProud have flocked to his defense quicker than you can say "sellout." In return for $16,000, they picked the Manchester Grand Hyatt as the site for a reception honoring lesbian talk radio host Tammy Bruce – most famous for being the person to whom the religious right points when they say "not every gay person supports same-sex marriage." Reportedly, all participants were welcomed warmly with a fruit basket.

*An earlier version of this story identified Doug Manchester as the president of Manchester Texas Financial Group. Doug F. Manchester is the founder and chairman of Manchester Financial Group. Doug W. Manchester, his son, is the president of Manchester Texas Financial Group. The Chronicle regrets the error.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Brandon Watson
My Obsession: Therapy With Nineties Supermodels
My Obsession: Therapy With Nineties Supermodels
Escape via the long gay tradition of diva worship

Sept. 15, 2017

Review: Holy Roller
Review: Holy Roller
The personal is edible at Callie Speer’s new hot spot

Sept. 8, 2017


Fairmont HotelLGBT issues, Manchester Texas Financial Group, Doug Manchester, Prop 8, San Diego Union Tribune

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle