The Gay Marriage Wars: Wrong Ahmanson, Again!

An email just received from Robert Weiss, director of L.A.'s Sexual Recovery Institute, defends his attack of Center Theatre Group (which administers the Ahmanson and Kirk Douglas theaters, and the Mark Taper Forum) by arguing that Howard Ahmanson, Jr. gave $400,000 to the group sponsoring the anti gay marriage initiative, which will be on the November ballot, and which could overturn the state Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriages in California. For the second time, Weiss has gotten the Ahmanson family members mixed up.

In early June, Weiss fired off a missive to CTG (forwarded em masse around the city) on behalf of all the gays employed in various capacities at the three theaters, threatening to boycott all CTG theaters until the organization “makes a public and vigorous statement against this hostile act,” referring to Howard Ahmanson's financial contriution to the anti-gay ballot initiative.

The theater bears Ahmanson's name, Weiss contended, and the theater continues to accept money from him.

As it turns out, the theater bears the name of Ahmanson's late father, Howard Ahmanson, Sr., and as CTG marketing director Jim Royce pointed out in a letter of response to subscribers, Ahmanson, Jr. hasn't given a dime to the theater.

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That's a quibble, countered Weiss in an email to the Weekly dated June 27, saying that the Ahmanson name is what counts. Weiss was vexed by CTG's response to him that if the man has no affiliation with CTG, the organization is under no obligation to apologize for his actions, no matter what his name is.

In today's email, Weiss accuses CTG of duplicity, mentioning that despite CTG's insistence “that Mr. Ahmanson is not a contributor of, nor involved with the theater,” he remains nonetheless on their board. “It just smells bad to me,” Weiss notes. (An attachment included an irate subscriber letter demanding Ahmanson's removal from the board.)

What smells bad to me is that, for the second time, Weiss and company have targeted the wrong Ahmanson. The only Ahmanson on the CTG Board is William H. Ahmanson, nephew of Howard Ahmanson, Sr., and cousin to Howard Ahmanson, Jr., who gave his money to the repugnant ballot measure.

It appears that Weiss launched his theater boycott campaign from factual misconceptions, which are now doubling back on each other. Gutting a theater's attendance under such conditions, as Weiss has called for, will serve no cause other than to threaten the employment of gay constituents Weiss claims to represent. The post-facto rationalization of the gaffes ( that the name "Ahmanson" is all that matters) is simply irrational.

If it's a new, tolerant world we're after, a good starting point before hitting the send button on emails designed to wreck a theater is to get the facts right. Then hold people accountable for their actions, not for those of their relatives.


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