Love the Sinner | Private Eye | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Love the Sinner 

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It’s a tough gig selling cars these days. That’s bad for the bar business. All over town, people who earn their living selling cars are buying fewer cocktails at cocktail hour. If they even show up at all, that is. A car salesman in a bar is like a canary in the mine—when the canary dies, the mine’s air is bad; when the car salesman quits drinking, the economy sucks.

This being Utah, I recognize that not all car salesmen drink in the first place. If I could imagine such a hellish place in which there were no drinking whatsoever, I’d imagine those nondrinking car salesmen cutting their budgets back in ways that offer similar economic barometers. Low car sales affect all car salesmen, so the nondrinkers are certainly buying less of something, too. Whatever they aren’t buying are products that I don’t normally use, so I’d miss the meaning of their particular canary.

How would I know the economy is tanking just because I see a few guys crying at the altar of generic-brand cola? I wouldn’t.

But thanks to the empty barstools, seats formerly topped with two-fisted drinking car salesmen, it’s safe to say we’ve seen better economic days. It’s not a total loss, though. There remain a hearty few of those car salesmen, who, rather than quitting drinking, have simply quit buying. Even though they can’t afford to be there, by simply showing up at the bar, overdrawn checkbook and nearly cancelled credit card in hand, they give hope to the rest of us. They deserve a drink on the house, or from you or me. Personally, I’m happy to oblige. Outside of my friends and enemies, I only buy drinks for veterans and car salesmen.

So it is that I invite all the car salesmen and saleswomen in the Garff Automotive Group to give me a ring or send me an e-mail asking for a free drink. It’s tough enough in the car business these days without also having to contend with an auto-dealership boycott. If you missed it, in November 2008, Californians passed Proposition 8 that denied marriage between gay couples.

LDS Church members worldwide were asked to provide funding or to volunteer in support of Prop 8. The total amount they donated is a moving target with late disclosures and all, but it remains safe to say that the largest single entity supporting Prop 8 was the LDS Church, via its own donations and those of its members.

Among those members donating was Katharine Garff who showed her support of Prop 8 by giving $100,000 to ProtectMarriage.com—a group that either supports traditional marriage or is against gay marriage. You can make the splitting-hairs call on that battleground definition, but by Election Day, gay marriage was officially off the table in California. One of the first reactions to that news was a call by some influential gays to boycott Utah and Sundance. That tempered into a call to boycott the LDS Church or all things LDS. I wrote then that such generic boycotts are pompous, ineffective and silly. Most Utahns and most LDS did not support Prop. 8 anyway.

But specific boycotts are a different brand of ice cream. Katherine Garff is married to Robert Garff, CEO of the Garff Automotive Group (known as GAG in some gay circles).

A boycott of his auto empire is soon to launch, sponsored by the group Californians Against Hate. It’s unknown how many Utahns also hate hate, or even if they hate hate as much as Californians. However, given the rapid mobilization of Utah’s gay community after the November elections, I’d hate to be selling cars for the Garff Automotive Group right now. Mr. Garff, speaking from behind his wife’s shadow, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the call to boycott his dealership was “grossly unfair” and that her donation was a personal gesture. Some people define “personal gesture” as flipping the bird, so perhaps Garff’s explanation is spot on. He dug another cubit of earth in the hole he is digging for himself by adding that, “We want our friends who are gay to know that we respect them.” Thud! That sound you hear are gay dollars being respected elsewhere.

The other sound you hear is a bar cash register ringing up another drink for a Garff car salesman. Love the sinner, hate the sin, as they say. CW Send Private Eye comments to john@slweekly.com.

Given the rapid mobilization of Utah’s gay community after the november elections, I’d hate to be selling cars for the garff automotive group right now.
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