Major hotel CEO: Anti-‘gay’ laws are not OK

By WND Staff

Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International
Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International

For Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International, it was an “easy call” when it came time to voice his opinion on North Carolina’s HB2, the nation’s first state law limiting the bathroom options for transgender people.

The law also excludes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from anti-discrimination protections, and blocks municipalities from adopting their own anti-discrimination and living wage rules.

NOTE: Readers wishing to contact Marriott International may do so here.

In first-person opinion piece on CNBC, Sorenson wrote: “I was asked to join a group of American business leaders and CEOs in opposing North Carolina’s HB2, a bill passed recently that sanctions LGBT discrimination across that state.

“For Marriott and for me, this was an easy call. The law does not reflect our values or a basic principle that helps drive new jobs and economic growth in North Carolina and beyond: Everyone deserves to be welcome. We are disappointed with the unusual speed that was given to passing and signing this legislation into law, undoubtedly an attempt to minimize public outcry.

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“Undeterred, I’m pleased to see that we are aligned with civil rights advocates, as well as most of the state’s top employers and job creators in calling for HB2 to be repealed. We’ve also heard a chorus of objections from major sporting leagues and organizers of popular North Carolina events, like the upcoming High Point Market Week that celebrates the state’s outstanding furnishings and design industry. At Marriott, we are also hearing from concerned customers and local employees.”

Read WND’s related story: The BIG LIST of ‘gayest’ companies in America

Sorenson explains how he prefers to “work in a spirit of collaboration” with state policy makers to generate better economic dividends. “Mutual respect and open discourse encourage all parties involved to craft reasonable solutions to real challenges,” he wrote, adding that “It’s regrettable that did not occur in North Carolina. We have seen this happen elsewhere, where haste and political expediency produce laws that ultimately diminish a state’s reputation along with its appeal for tourism, job creation and economic activity. I hope more state leaders will learn from these missteps.”

Sorenson says there’s another path, and “state law need not discriminate against one group to protect another. … It dismays many of us that, in 29 states, people are still at risk of losing their job just for being gay or transgender.”

Sorenson regrets “we do not yet have a federal law banning employment discrimination or discrimination in the provision of public accommodations that includes protection for LGBT people” and explains this is “exactly why Marriott recently joined with scores of American business leaders to endorse Congressional passage of the Equality Act – which for the first time, will set uniform, federal protections in place that include sexual orientation and gender identity.”

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He concludes by stating, “America’s promise is clear. Our nation strives to provide equal opportunity, no matter who you are. Most Americans today understand that we shouldn’t judge people by how they worship, who they love, what gender they identify with or by their wealth, nationality, race, sex, age or physical abilities.

“To be competitive in the world today, America needs everyone’s skills. Including LGBT people in that effort is not simply the right thing to do, it’s also essential for business.”

NOTE: Readers wishing to contact Marriott International may do so here.

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