El Coyote Owner Apologizes For Prop. 8 Contribution; Boycott Looms

In a dramatic, closed door lunch meeting, the owner of a renowned Mexican eatery in Hollywood expressed regret in her decision to donate $100 to the “Yes on Prop 8″ campaign, but her remarks before a group of about 60 members of Los Angeles’ LGBT community fell short of an outright personal apology.

“I’m sick of heart that I’ve offended anyone in the gay community,” said Marjorie Christofferson, co-owner of El Coyote Mexican Cafe for 17 years. “I have had, and do have family, friends, and people I work with of course who are gay…and you are treasured people to me.”

The tall, frail Christofferson stood in the center of the group. She appeared to be shaking during her prepared remarks which lasted about 3 minutes. Her daughters flanked her to prevent her from fainting, according to a restaurant employee. At several points during her speech, Christofferson simply became too emotional to continue.

El Coyote has become the latest casualty in the local outburst against the passage of Proposition 8, an anti-marriage amendment to the California State Constitution. Dozens of e-mails and websites, including the popular online local guide, Yelp.com, have urged boycotting the legendary cafe in recent days.

Christofferson, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, insisted that her donation was personal, and reflected her religious faith.

“I’ve been a member of the Mormon Church all my life,” she said. “This was a personal donation. In like fashion, any employee here would be free to donate, worship or support anything of their personal choosing. Over the years, El Coyote has financially supported many charities and thousands of dollars most particularly have been given to the gay interests and charities. The restaurant does not support any political group.”

In the only question taken by Ms. Christofferson after her remarks, and before those gathered, I asked her directly if she would personally make an equal donation to the campaigns to repeal Proposition 8.

“I cannot change a lifetime of faith,” she said.

Moments later, the same group which had been invited for lunch and margaritas grew increasingly verbal, apparently reacting to the lack of a direct apology from Ms. Christofferson, and she left the building in tears.  The group continued to meet for another 30 minutes, before dispersing for what appeared to be a looming boycott. One demonstrator was already shouting outside.

Still, there were some dissenting voices in the room. One woman compared the angry gathering to Nazi Germany, when Hitler’s military singled out individual Jews in a witch hunt for their religious beliefs. “Why are we singling out one restaurant?” the woman asked. “Are you ready to go up against every single restaurant in the city?”

Should the gay community boycott El Coyote?

Openly-gay restaurant manager Billy Schoeppner, announced that El Coyote would make two $5,000 contributions, each to the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and the Lambda Legal Defense Fund.  He also asked those gathered to suggest any possible or practical ways the legendary establishment could avert a full-on boycott and PR war by the Los Angeles LGBT community.

Another manager, Arnaldo Archila, outrightly denounced Ms. Christofferson in a forceful statement.

“We don’t share her views as the management,” said Mr. Archila, a native of El Salvador. “They don’t press us to do anything that we don’t want to do, and we never talk about politics or religion. I don’t understand why we got connected to something going on at the top.”

Other restaurant employees also spoke, including a waitress who tearfully worried what would happen to the 89 families that receive some financial support from El Coyote if a boycott were to occur.

Mr. Schoeppner told me privately that in addition to making contributions to the aforementioned charities, that the restaurant was planning to take out full page advertisements in the LA Weekly and Frontiers Newsmagzine to avert a boycott.

“I understand boycotts and protests have been planned. Let me personally take the responsibility for your pain and anger,” said Christoffsen. “El Coyote is no part of what I have done. The only people you will truly hurt are the hundreds of families of mixed origins and sexual diversity who rely on El Coyote to feed their families.”

No cameras were permitted in the rear dining room where the meeting was being held, to the chagrin of some bloggers.  A demonstration was set for Thursday night.  Watch the video of Ms. Christofferson’s speech, and my follow up question.


  1. She donates a hundred bucks and you get 10,000 in “reparations”? Sounds more like shakedown money. You’re taking a lesson right out of Jesse Jackson’s playbook. I don’t care if gays can marry but equating your struggle to the plight of blacks in the Jim Crow south, as some gay activists have, is too much. Todd seems to have a better handle on the correct argument. I’ll tell you, you won’t win any friends with boycotts and attacks on churches.

  2. Todd, very good argument. If Christians, Mormons and other religious groups had their basic right (of being able to practice their beliefs freely) taken away, you can bet that they would be upset too.

  3. Wow, Luke, please tell me you are not that stupid.

    First, thank you for admitting that homosexuality is a behavior and not an ethnic group. At least we got that part cleared up.

    Now, let’s take your argument to the logical conclusion. Does “behavior” include blowing up abortion clinics? What if that is somebody’s “pursuit of happiness”? What about stealing? That seems to make a lot of people happy. Is that protected. What about kidnapping? How about terrorizing people? All those are “behaviors”. Are they protected by the constitution?

    Billie, you really should expand your mind a little…of course that may require you to get beyond the 3rd grade.

    Luke, Prop 8 was done to overturn the judicial activism of your beloved 9th circuit. Since you seem to think you know so much about the constitution, you may want to read the part about separation of powers. If there are too many big words for you, you could probably get your mommy to help you.

  4. Funny how none of us would be upset and arguing, and Marjorie would be serving scratch margaritas by the gallon, if SOMEBODY would have recognized and fostered EQUALITY in the first place by voting NO on Prop 8.

  5. As someone who almost joined the Catholic Church’s priesthood, I emphasize with her. I do. However, I can’t pity her for it would be wasted. America was founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with the caveat that happiness be pursued so long as your pursuit does not infringe on the rights of another to pursue their own happiness. She earned a living on LGBT dollars and has no regrets about using those profits to strip us of our civil rights. She made a conscious choice to betray those who supported her and defended herself by hiding behind her blind faith.

    She claims to be a woman of faith and I respect that. However, blind faith is dangerous for it adversely affects our rational thinking. I can accept someone with different ideologies than me, especially when they own their decisions, but will refuse to accept it when someone uses “faith” as a way to excuse behaviors they regret. It is insulting to her clientele and to the religious community as a whole.

    My activism is out of necessity, not purely choice. I am looking at this issue through a purely legal context and it is against the ideals that America was founded on. While I don’t agree on the protests that have occured at the churches, I also don’t agree that Churches should be preaching politics from the pulpit and those that do should have their 501(c)3 status stripped. I’m feeling so many emotions right now, its hard to comprehend let alone to explain. If all men were created equal and we value the pursuit of happiness as long as it doesn’t infringe on the pursuit of another, why are we being legally persecuted? This is unacceptable. This is why I fight.

  6. It is amazing how MOST (NOT ALL) Yes on 8 are so willing to reduce a major civil rights issue in to one so ridden with fallacy in order to further their agenda.

    I am an open minded individual, I can see how many of you would not agree with my lifestyle. I can respect your POV and maybe that is the problem! Maybe my lack of seething hate and intolerance is working against me and our community … Maybe we should go the route of Karl Rove and just throw shit against the wall until it sticks, it worked for the YES folks…. In fact, all of this propaganda about how gays have turned against blacks and want to burn churches down is a silly attempt to make us look bad. I have been at these marches and the most disrespect I have seen is a “shame on you” … that is another blog all together…

    I keep coming back to the reality – most of our community is not like MOST of the YES group. We know what intolerance looks like, we can see it in our own families faces. We came from your towns and homes and churches and families and we chose a better option, happiness and the respect of all people – regardless of their beliefs. Truth is, I feel sorry for most of the Yes folks. Full of anger, hate, intolerance, repression….

    Its a shame that our love and understanding has come to bite us in the ass. But, times are changing my friends and I think that Ms. Coyote ugly is a glimpse of that change. To quote one of my favorite signs “No more Mr. Nice Gay”

  7. Easy now!

    It’s just a little “community activism”. If this old bitty can’t handle a bunch of homosexual thugs, then she’s obviously in the wrong community.

    “Get in their faces!”, that’s what The One says. And apparently it’s the only way to overturn a 2,000 year old tradition that billions of people consider sacred.

    Fascist thugs. In the courts and in the streets.

    Tolerance? Yeah. Right.

  8. Wow. So much hate from those that desire tolerance. And I am talking about those against prop 8. Really we speak about tolerance, but we can’t practice it ourselves? Since when has marriage been a civil right? And if it is? Can’t we try and educate, appeal to people’s sensitivities? Love them even when they are hateful in our eyes?

    Where is this tolerance you so desire? You want people to tolerate your wants and needs, yet you cannot tolerate them if they disagree? I’m not sure the people that want to keep marriage man woman are so hateful, just seeing the issue from a different stance. and if they are hateful is the best response to hate them back and do hateful things to them? Hate begets hate.

  9. Religious right supporters boycott Ford, Disney, and other businesses that support gay marriage? Yay! We’re wonderful Christian warriors! We’re moral and holy!

    Religious right supporters get boycotted because they are against gay marriage? Waah! We’re religiously persecuted! You’re [expletive deleted].

  10. I’m sorry I don’t see any difference between this and McCarthism.

    Why give the right a reason to hate us?

    I am gay. I don’t believe in gay marriage. Are you going to hate me as well? I want the same civil liberties as everyone, and I want to love and live with the one I love and have sex with whom ever I chose. And you know what I can. People have the right to not except my life style, as I have the right to not except theirs.

    Lets be honest? Since when can gay men ever truly commit anyways? I know I can’t! haha.

    Ok all kidding aside. We hate when the right wingers hate on us, persecute us, condemn us. Why are we returning fire with that same hate? Isn’t there a better way?

  11. Ira. We tried to appeal to the sensitivities before the election through our ads. Truth is, people have been tolerating us and not accepting us. Using us for our great style, and to get a laugh off of :) We no longer want to be tolerated, what an awful concept! We want to be accepted, respected full members of society with the same rights as everyone else.

    The line in the sand has been drawn and this issue is not going to just go away. We do not want to be relegated to separate and almost equal aka “domestic partnerships”.

    You are on track with the education – we do need to educate people about this situation. Problem is, most people are sheep and do as they are told from the pulpit (see above article) without critical thought. Out on the streets “educating people”, I had been told time and time again that a yes vote was about RELIGION nothing else. I was also told time and time again that they were going to vote yes, but they loved our community and had a gay(fill in the blank)…

    You know what? We are done with allowing our rights to be dictated by the religious establishment or distorted ad campaign and it will take a combined effort of education, public relations, marching, media, celebrity, love and money to get us there.

    Joining church and state to create our laws is not what America is about, if you want that type of country move to Iran, Iraq or whatever else country its vogue to invade for the the purpose of instituting freedom. Oh in the great words of Alanis, “Isn’t it ironic?”

  12. So, should all 52 percent of Californians who voted yes lose there jobs and businesses? That would be awesome for the economy. This is stupid. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and you are on your way!!!

  13. Talk about HATE, BIGOTRY and HYPOCRISY! Last time I checked we all have the right to worship and vote as we please. We don’t have to agree, we don’t have to like it but the more I read, the more sympathetic I become toward Ms. Christofferson, in fact I will gather as many friends as I can to eat in her restaurant. She voted her conscience and has that right. The more people single out people such as her, the more harm they do to their own cause. There are FAR more Catholics and evangelical Christians in this state than Mormons. Oh I get it, prey and the smallest of minorities. Let’s see 7 in 10 blacks who voted, voted YES on 8, as did most Catholics and many other Christian groups. Would you go after them?? Of course not, prey on the 1% who exercised their constitutional right. HOW BRAVE!

  14. White middle-class Californians are being scapegoated for the passage of Proposition 8, which was overwhelmingly approved by blacks and hispanics turned out in record numbers to vote for Obama.

    I’d like to see the fascists who are terrorizing Mormons take the same tactics to the black and hispanic churches and neighborhoods. Of couse we know these bullies would be slapped into next week if they tried.

  15. If someone gives money to a cause they believe in that is their right. If they speak out against or for something that is their right. If they vote for something that is their right. If you disagree you can choose not to patronize that business that is your right. You can protest, that is your right. You see how democracy works? But be mindful, if people disagree with your treatment of those with whom you disagree others may excercise their rights against you and others of your like mind. The fire with which you use for your torches may burn you as well.

  16. Elton John is against gay marriage. So is he a hateful bigot? Why don’t you attack and boycott Elton John?


    And what about the 3 judges on the California supreme court that voted against legalizing gay marriage. Are they just bigots and hate mongers? Then why aren’t those judges being forced out? Where is the outrage against those 3 judges? Or is it possible they have expertise in the law and know that gay marriage is not a civil right?

    This new “law” barely passed 4 against 3. That doesn’t mean it is suddenly correct.

  17. From Stonewall to the present, when have homosexuals been anything but an unhinged extortionate mob? And notice that the only people they chose to pick on are a smaller minority than themselves. If the California Supreme Court overturns Prop 8 expect proponents, who number in the tens of millions, to systematically work toward relieving four justices of their jobs before passing yet another man/woman marriage proposition. The Gay rights movement in CA has reached its zenith, and its only going to recede in influence from now on due to (da, da-da, daaa) non-whites (NOT the LDS), whose numbers are only increasing. California’s future is very traditional heterosexual — and also much tackier and poorer. Also, expect Prop 8 supporters to begin patronizing businesses being boycotted by gays.

  18. Please, by all means, continue the boycotts and other fascist behavior.

    You lost by 4% this time. Continue to turn people off by putting people out of work during a recession and you will lose by a greater margin next time.

    You might scare people, extort them into making donations to you, cause them to not donate to the pro marriage side, but when they vote again, they will all vote against your hate.

  19. I’m uneasy with the LBGT community singling out mormons, when clearly the majority of californians agree that the definition of marriage should not be changed.
    Honestly, this smacks of religious bigotry. Where are the boycotts of the thousands of black and latino and catholic restaurant owners who support traditional marriage?

    Those whose style themselves as oppressed and victims of bigotry become oppressors and religous bigots … sad. and ironic.

  20. The majority rules. Get over it feminucci’s. I’ll say it like it is, most people are disgusted with your perverted way of life. You cupcakes expect people to be tolerant of your way of life? Learn to respect how MOST people feel about your way of life. Pathetic! Every single one of you are pathetic.

  21. Do gays really want to go down the “rule by the mob” road? Your self assumed moral authority is not supported by the law. Your next step is the Courts, not mau-mauing and intimidating your opponents. Your violence tinged and intimidate by the mob “Mormom bashing” could very well bring a backlash of violent gay bashing. “Tolerance” is a two way street. You might start practicing what you preach.

  22. I am very much in line with what Eric posted early on. And I feel, after reading many of the other posts, needs to be revisited…
    Eric writes:
    “…Marjorie Christofferson is apparently not actually the owner of El Coyote. She is a manager and a part of the family that owns the restaurant, but she is not the owner. Her mother is. She is the only mormon in the family. Her husband is not mormon either. The staff and the family apparently does not share her personal stance associated with Christofferson’s religious views. She alone made that contribution. She didn’t ask them about it first. They found out about it when we did. The employees are just as devastated as we are.”

    If that is true, if Christofferson in not the owner, then where do we go from here? This woman’s donation, albeit ignorant, is her right – just as it is our right to disagree. But what are we boycotting here – a lone woman? Or the establishement she works for but does not own? Yes, I understand it may be a family owned business but would you want your father/mother/sister/brother’s establishment boycotted simply because you worked there and made a donation to, say, Obama’s campaign?

    Eric continues: “How would your views change if you knew one of those very same gay couples who got married, actually works there at El Coyote? Well they do. So boycotting that restaurant would also harm one of those couples. Not to mention the large number of gay people who actually work there.”

    As I was reading one of the many posts that followed, I was particularly offended by a comment Mark at the Beach posted: “I feel sorry for the 89 people and their families that work at the restaurant, but they will find other jobs.”

    Mark! COME ON!! They will find other jobs??! Really, in this recession?! You honestly believe that? – Sounds like to me you don’t feel sorry for them or their families at all. You sound deluded and want to make yourself feel better for wishing El Coyote to go down in flames. And also, Mark at the Beach, does it bother you at all that some fo those 89 people working there are married gay couples trying to make a living?

  23. Shame on you hypocrites. You took her money, love and support. You claim to want peace and justice. Where is her right to do as she feels is right? She gave far more to you and your community than she gave to Prop. 8. I say let all you immoral fools go and boycott her and her restaurant. The right always comes out and the wrong will continue to fail.

  24. molly,

    i don’t know what rallies you’ve been to, but have you seen the signs and video footage of the LA temple protest/riot?
    did you see the graffiti on the temple wall?

    did you see what happened the the christian group in san francisco?

    go margie. good for her. if i had been there i would have helped her stand up a little straighter.

    there is nothing wrong with boycotting businesses that have made statements or donated to causes you disagree– but it’s just mean and vindictive to go after a whole business because of one person’s donation. and not very smart for the cause. it just exposes the mob mentality.

  25. Lee,

    I was at the Mormon temple rally. I have been documenting the events and have video and photos of the events and a lot of the signs.

    It would seem that the folks calling the GLBT community out on intolerance, in my opinion as a form of red herring, have not and have never even been to a rally. They would rather preach, blame and name-call from behind the anonymity of their computer. Leaders of the ‘Yes’ campaign go on TV and throw out this nonsense about the “N” word being used and us turning on the Black community and it is becoming absurd.

    You know Lee, mob mentality goes both ways. Just as there are extremes on the Yes side, there are also some on the No side, it is just a fact of life. I can only speak from my experience and considering I have gone many of the protests since the passage of 8 – I think I have a very good idea of the atmosphere and I am not aware of any riots, graffiti, or signage that would draw concern.

    Further, lets not forget that it is the GLBT community that has been stripped of rights, and yes there is anger and frustration. I think on the whole our community has shown restraint and grace in a time of confusion and much emotion.

    Last, I am just wondering, and I hope that some of you “yes” folks can chime in on this, but why are you so concerned with how I live my life? No matter what you do OR how you vote OR what you think, you can not erase us.

  26. I’m not a supporter or an opponent, but a Christian observer wondering what position I would take if I was back in California.

    At this point in my spiritual walk (I have a lot of growing to do), I know this:
    – As a Christian, I’m called to care how everyone lives, not in a nosy sense, but in an “on guard in case you need my help” way. To be a true friend and fellow traveler on my Christian journey. To love one another.
    – I don’t want to deny a person his or her right to happiness. Happiness is often broadly defined with conflicting notions — spiritual v. temporal forms of joy.
    – With that said, I crack open the Bible and Christ says that narrow is the gate (Matthew 7 13-14). If that’s the case, then most of us are done for. Often I hear that when we sin, and I mean Christians as well, of course, that it’s a matter of not walking with God. It’s a matter of discipleship. It can take the form of hating one another, tearing one another down, but it can also take the form of cowardice on my part for not speaking up when I witness sin. Anyway, it’s an enormously complex issue for me, and I hope to reach a point where I can better understand God, His will, and how I can love others. That will come from my walk with God and not dictates by others with their own agendas — be they pastors or activists.

    I know I didn’t reach any real conclusions. I’m just trying to illustrate how it’s a real internal struggle for many of us.

  27. My fiancee and I ate at El Coyote for the first time Monday night. The place was busy but we were able to talk with several of the staff members. They’re united in supporting Marjorie’s rights. Marjorie sat and talked with us for about 20 minutes — turns out that she and my fiancee are members of the same LDS ward.
    Some of the things that she told us are:
    > SHE HAS NO OWNERSHIP OF THE RESTAURANT; SHE IS AN EMPLOYEE. She seemed surprised that people said she’s part-owner — didn’t anyone ask her before creating this brouhaha? I don’t see how this has anything to do with her rights to believe, think, vote, and donate as she chooses but some of her opponents seemed to believe that her supposed ownership mattered.
    > The business has not and will not make any politically-oriented donations. It has/does/will make non-political charitable and community donations for counseling, welfare, etc. that include help to the homosexual community – similar to help from LDS Relief Services that comes without questions about recipients’ political/gender orientation. The contribution mentioned by the male employee in the video of last Thursday’s meeting comprised personal donations from some of the employees; none of the funds came from the business. Talking with her convinced me that this co-worker was in error when he said she’d retract her donation if she could.
    > One of their managers has been with the restaurant for 50 years. Other employees have been there 20-30 years. The staff, like the neighborhood, is a mixture of homosexuals and heterosexuals. All are attentive, polite, and rallying around Marjorie. Nearly 100 people depend upon El Coyote for their paychecks.
    After talking with Marjorie, we decided to make El Coyote one of our regular stops. I would that all of us outsiders follow the example of El Coyote’s staff and come together there in peace.

  28. As a straight person in California who thinks its appalling that there could even be a vote to take away people’s rights, I thank people for pointing out where to boycott. I would support boycotting all businesses and individuals who supported prop 8. They have the right to donate their money as they want, and I have the right to spend my money only on businesses I want to succeed, lead by people I can respect.

  29. I for one feel I should make an extra large donation to those who support prop 8. From the images, both still and video which show exactly who is intolerant and the facist rantings [sic] from the GLTB confirm it. You see it’s ok for them to protest, beat people up, vandalize and terrorize people who happen to think prop 8 is good because those folks are all racists, bigots anyway. The GLTB community can’t stand it when someone doesn’t accept the sexual behaviour they practice and they practice there own form of bigotry and facism against those who promote prop 8 and yet if we went out into the streets and did to them what they do they would be screaming bloody murder. I support prop 8 just because of the actions of the GLTB community after the MAJORITY of the populace [sic] decided what they wanted marrige [sic] to be.

  30. Let me get this straight. Marjorie is one of 89 employees. This was enough to demonstrate, boycott, harass customers and that one employee. So the standard is that if 1/89 of a business’s employees voted for Prop 8, you will do these things to that business.
    Given this 1/89 standard you set with El Coyote, and more than half the state voted for Prop 8, are there any businesses that you can patronize? Looking at you from the other side, your stand appears to have removed you from our economy.

  31. Actually It may work out well if can get the court to overturn the election then we can have them overturn one more and install John Mccain as president

  32. So this means that I being for Prop 8 should now investigate any business that has an employee that made a contribution against the proposition, I should boycott it. I never thought of that kind of hatred before.

  33. The gay activists are so insanely hypocritical it’s hilarious. They scream out in hate (AGAINST HATE!!) and bigotry towards those that don’t support their views and way of life. Boy, there is no way they’ll be getting any support from me or my family. Try to bully people into voting your way will guarantee I’ll vote for the opposition.

  34. i’ve been boycotting since november, and it feels AMAZING.

    it’s my right as an american to spend my money anywhere i please.

    if anyone has a problem with me NOT spending my “gay” cash el coyote, or el pollo in silver lake …. THAT’S JUST TOO DAMN BAD. GET OVER IT.

    let these words of wisdom cook in your brain for a while:

    “religious zombies harbor the fears and insecurities of the UNEDUCATED”.

  35. Sam, I have boycotted businesses before because they provided horrible service or sold really crappy products. There is a sense of self-satisfaction, but it’s really nothing more than that. Basically it’s a way to make oneself feel superior or like some victory has been achieved, even when the exact opposite might be true.

  36. […] to media figures. Margie Christofferson, a co-owner of the El Coyote Café in California was reduced to tears by a mob of gay rights activists angry for giving $100 to help passed Prop 8. She apologized if she offended the gay community, but failed […]