To the Los Angeles Times, it is surprising that Marriott International would join the Human Rights Campaign’s coalition of companies calling for the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
After all, writer David Colker reasoned, the giant hotel chain was founded by a devout Mormon, John Willard Marriott, and is still run by his son, Bill Marriott, also a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
That Utah-based church pushed its members to support California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as only between a husband and wife.
What the story didn’t note, however, is that neither Bill Marriott nor his company contributed to Prop 8. When gay-rights activists threatened to boycott the Mormon-owned hotels in the aftermath of the measure’s passage, Marriott made his position clear.
Marriott International has had domestic-partner benefits since the late 1980s and has earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for two years in a row, Marriott said in a Nov. 13, 2008, release quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune.
Many of the hotels have hosted gay-community functions and events for years.
“The Bible that I love teaches me about honesty, integrity and unconditional love for all people,” Bill Marriott said then. “But beyond that, I am very careful about separating my personal faith and beliefs from how we run our business.”
This time around, Marriott is making the same point.
The Times describes Marriott’s 2012 interview with Business Insider in which the hotel titan said that “he personally believed that marriage was between a man and a woman” but does not impose his religious views on the business.
“We have to take care of our people, regardless of their sexual orientation or anything else,” Bill Marriott told the Insider (also found in Bloomberg Businessweek) “We have all the American values: the values of hard work, the values of integrity, the values of fairness and respect.”
He further pointed out, “Our church is very much opposed to alcohol and we’re probably one of the biggest sales engines of liquor in the United States. I don’t drink. We serve a lot of liquor.”
Peggy Fletcher Stack