Political Fallout Affects Small Businesses

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As the world reacted two weeks ago to the election of the first black president in the U.S., the national election fervor was rivaled in California by the passing of Prop. 8, a bill to overturn same sex rights.

There was a time when something like this would have a minimal impact on small businesses, but the viral impact of any decision can have unexpected consequences.

The Wall Street Journal reported entrepreneurs on both sides of the issue have been feeling the pinch. For those in the wedding industry, the canceled venues, unsold cakes and unrented tuxedos are causing business owners concern.

Conversely, business owners who supported Prop. 8 are being threatened with boycotts as protesters track and report contributions to the Prop. 8 campaign.

While the LA  Times provides people a tracking mechanism to find out which businesses contributed financially to the Prop. 8 campaign, consumers have taken the battle to Yelp.com, identifying businesses and/or employees of a particular business, who supported the initiative.

In fact, these Yelp reviews have sparked controversy as many of these postings have been cited as violating Yelp policy of not allowing negative reviews based on the political affiliation of the business being reviewed. As a result many of the postings related to Prop. 8 have been removed with the justification that the reviews are supposed to focus on customer experience.

Protesters and opponents of Prop. 8 say that political affiliation is part of their customer experience, noting that they are not willing to support businesses that actively engage in discrimination by supporting causes like Prop. 8. Conversely, proponents of the measure, who view it as a parents' rights issue, also want to know what businesses opposed the proposition, since political affiliation is part of their customer experience, too.

--Kimberlee Morrison

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