Marriott Hotels Does Post-Prop. 8 Damage Control
In the wake of the highly divisive campaigns over the issue of marriage equality in California, the role of the Mormon church and its membership in bankrolling the anti-marriage side (to the tune of a reported $22 million) has come under scrutiny, with a movement afoot to strip the Mormon church of its tax-exempt status and some calling for a boycott of the state of Utah as a tourist destination.
At least one large corporation headed by a Mormon has responded pre-emptively, evidently to head off a boycott of its services.
Bill Marriott, of Marriott Hotels, issued a release in which he assured company’s employees and guests that Marriott Hotels did not, as a company, contribute to the successful campaign to revoke the right of gay and lesbian families in California to marry.
Wrote Marriott in the Nov. 11 statement, "Neither I, nor the company, contributed to the campaign to pass Proposition 8."
Continued Marriott, "The Bible that I love teaches me about honesty, integrity and unconditional love for all people.
"But beyond that, I am very careful about separating my personal faith and beliefs from how we run our business."
Wrote Marriott, "I am personally motivated to speak now because Marriott was built on the basic principles of respect and inclusion."
Marriott noted that his company had received a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for two years running, and also cited the chain’s longtime hosting of GLBT events and functions.
Marriott also pointed out that the hotel chain had put a diversity program in place more than two decades ago, and reminded readers that the hotel was an early leader in providing its employees with benefits for their domestic partners.
"My father, who founded this company along with my mother, told everyone who would listen: ’Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your customers, who will come back again and again.’"
Not all those who responded at the feedback section of the online blog where the release appeared seemed willing to return as guests, however.
Wrote one reader, "I appreciate the transparency of this conversation, bill. But i ask you to put yourself in the shoes of gay people: we were trying to live our lives with dignity in California and marrying the people we love.
"Then your Church, which you tithe to, asks its members to support Prop 8 and take away our civil rights.
"What would you do in our situation? Or other straight readers?" continued the reader.
"I am sure you would be mad as we are. And I am sure you have tremendous influence in the Mormon Church: if you call the Church President, he will take your call.
"I applaud the diversity policies of the Marriott Corporation, but that is good business and within your own self-interest," continued the reader.
"For now, until you stand up to the bigotry of your church and impact on my life, I will take my business to the Four Seasons, Hyatt and Hilton, and urge my business colleagues to do the same."
Other readers defended and applauded Marriott’s comments. Wrote one, "Prop. 8 was an issue before California Voters. They and they alone voted for it to pass. Marriott didn’t do it, the LDS Church didn’t do it. The boycott people are barking up the wrong tree."
Added the reader, "The LDS Church did not contribute one dime to the pro Prop 8 cause. Members did of their own free will. The Church asked them too but it was their decision.