Self-storage firm boycotted for Prop. 8 support

The latest attempt to boycott a company associated with Proposition 8 targets a self-storage chain with several Bay Area locations.

Californians Against Hate founder Fred Karger said he’s running an online campaign to boycott San Diego-based A-1 Self Storage because of owner Terry Caster’s financial support of the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. A-1 has 30 locations throughout California, including Oakland, Concord, Belmont and four in San Jose.

From Karger’s Huffington Post column yesterday:

Why would someone contribute $693,000 to take away the rights of an entire minority group in California? Terry Caster and his family did just that. Caster, his 8 children and many of their spouses gave a total of $293,000 to help qualify Proposition 8 for the ballot earlier this year. Then when the plea went out for more money from the Yes on 8 campaign in late October, Caster opened up his checkbook and gave an additional $400,000 to take away same-sex marriage in
California. That’s $693,000 to Yes on 8! Terry Caster was the 2nd largest contributor in California to the Yes on 8 campaign.

Caster told the San Diego Union-Tribune in May that marriage equality threatens society. “Without solid marriage, you are going to have a sick society,” he said.

This is the third boycott launched by Karger’s group against Proposition 8 contributors. One of the earlier efforts targeted Doug Manchester, owner of San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel and Grand del Mar Resort as well as another resort in Idaho; that boycott is still ongoing. Another boycott targeted Bakersfield-based Bolthouse Farms after former CEO William Bolthouse Jr. gave $100,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign; Karger dropped that one in October after Bolthouse’s current CEO launched a comprehensive diversity program and agreed to contribute to several LGBT groups.

Californians Against Hate already began a “Call Terry Caster” campaign back in August, asking people to call Caster’s personal office and A-1’s headquarters; that’s now being replaced with the boycott, Karger said. He’s also asking people to leave comments on A-1’s Yelp pages.

Now, I blogged earlier this week about how boycotts are a time-honored, fair-game means of political expression, and one that conservative groups have used in the past against businesses supporting gay rights. I’d neglected then to note that Proposition 8’s proponents just last month sent a letter to almost three dozen businesses which had contributed to the campaign against the initiative, essentially demanding that they give equal money to Yes on 8 or risk conservative blowback.

Many thought that skated pretty close to extortion, so let’s not hear any whining about boycotts, OK?

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.