We’ve been getting a slew of press releases from various hotel and accommodations that are touting special deals during Pride season. Too many, in fact, to list here. But one caught our eye: Marriott International’s “Be You, With Us” campaign.
Launched in cities around the world that host LGBT Pride celebrations, “Be You, With Us” is gay-targeted promotion for season travel packages and hotel amenities at various Marriott properties, including Renaissance, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard and Residence Inn. It culminates with a sweepstakes offering a a $5,000 trip to Berlin, San Francisco or New York Pride in 2013.
Not too shabby.
But isn’t Marriott run by Mormons? Don’t they hate the gays? Well, yes and no.
Though Marriott is a publicly traded company, Marriott Chairman Bill Marriott is a Mormon, as are some other members of the board. (Arne Sorenson, the company’s CEO is actually Lutheran, not Mormon, and the leadership and employees are of diverse beliefs and non-beliefs.)
But Bill’s on record as supporting LGBT rights and staying out of the Proposition 8 fight.
He passed control of day-to-day operations to CEO Arne Sorenson in 2011 but a few years back Mr Marriott clarified the company’s position on his blog:
Marriott International is a public company headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and is not controlled by any one individual or family. Neither I, nor the company, contributed to the campaign to pass Proposition 8.
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…
For more than 80 years, our company has grown and changed, but that basic principle still holds up. We embrace all people as our customers, associates, owners and franchisees regardless of race, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Our principle is backed up with a formal diversity program, which we established more than 20 years ago. Our Board of Directors has also focused on this priority and helped us be a leader and a better company. We were among the first in our industry to offer domestic partner benefits, and we’ve earned a perfect 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for two years in a row. Many of our hotels have hosted LGBT community functions and events for years.
He’s got a point: The Marriott Marquis in New York is home to the GLAAD Media Awards and the Chicago Marriott even hosts the annual International Mr. Leather competition, hardly a Rotary Club meeting.
Of course, as a good Mormon some company leaders and major stock holders contribute substantially to the LDS Church, which may in turn use those funds to fight against marriage equality. Or it may not, depending on the pressure they feel from contributors.
And it’s your right to feel that’s tantamount to endorsing bigotry. But to us it looks like Marriott is embracing the best kind of corporate responsibility.
Photos: Marriott International