The Case Against A Marriott Boycott (part 2): Marriott is not Anti-Gay

by cv harquail on December 4, 2008

Another reason not to boycott Marriott?
Marriott is not an anti-gay organization.

Marriage equality activists who advocate boycotting Marriott hotels are encouraging consumers to punish the Marriott Corporation for its connection to the Mormon Church. Boycott activists argue that the Marriott Corporation’s profits ultimately  subsidize the anti-gay activities of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints.

30% of the Marriott Hotels’ shares are held by Marriott family members. Because the Marriott family’s membership in the Mormon Church requires them to contribute some of their personal fortune to the LDS , the Mormon Church itself benefits from consumers’ support of Marriott Hotels. Boycott supporters conclude that if consumers withhold their business from Marriott, consumers can punish the Marriott Family and the Marriott Corporation for their personal and institutional support of California’s prop 8 prohibiting same-sex marriage.

As one anonymous commenter at QueersUnited explains:

"Marriott Hotels (including Fairfield Inns, Springhill Suites, Residence Inns, Courtyards, JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Renaissance) should be included as well. Although Bill Marriott did NOT actually donate to the campaign, he is a Mormon in good standing (meaning that he tithes to the church – thus, the money you pay at the hotel does in part end up with the church) – and although thes Fairfields, Springhills, most of the the rest are franchises, the do pay "license fees" and other money to Marriott International, which is a major contributor to Mormon-related charities, and a major employer in Utah.

In addition to a boycott’s short-term goal of financially punishing the organization for its behavior, a longer term goal is to pressure the organization to take new, different behaviors. In this case, a boycott would punish the Marriott Corporation for being anti-gay and attempt to pressure the Marriott Corporation to become more gay friendly.

The thing is, though, that Marriott is already gay-friendly.

Consider these arguments:

1. Marriott is highly ranked for its overall diversity policies, which include its policies regarding employees’ sexual orientation. 200812041633.jpg

Marriott is # 72 in Fortune ‘s 100 Best Companies to Work For (2008) . Diversity Inc’s Top 50 Companies. in Diversity Inc’s Top 50 Companies.

2. Marriot has the explicit approval of LGBT rights associations.

The Marriott Corporation has the ‘seal of approval’ from the most prominent US LGBT-rights organization , the Human Rights Campaign.

(Of course, the HRC does not represent the views of all LGBT-rights activists. See Andrew Sullivan’s piece in The Atlantic for more criticism of the HRC.)

The Marriott Corporation has received the highest ranking in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index . "The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index report, released each fall, provides an in-depth analysis and rating of large U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors."

3. Purchasing from Marriott has been recommended by LGBT-rights associations.

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Pro-LGBT rights consumers are encouraged by the Human Rights Campaign not to boycott Marriott but instead to choose Marriott Hotels over other hotels. The HRC recommends the Marriott Corporation in its annual "Buying for Equality" guide. The HRC publishes this annual buying guide to help gay rights consumers support gay positive organizations with their purchases. "The information in this guide comes from the 2009 Corporate Equality Index, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual report card on corporate America’s treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors."

4. Employees testify to Marriott’s Gay-friendly policies and environment.

The Marriott organization receives many positive testimonials from its LGBT and gay friendly employees, all commenting on how well the organization and its members support employees regardless of their sexual orientation.

Just one of many examples: Responding to Bill Marriott’s 11.11.08 blog post about "The Facts About Marriott and California’s Proposition 8 , " employee Rudy Bell commented:

As someone who worked for Marriott for several years, I can say Marriott has always been accepting and supportive of those in the gay community. There were several gay associates working in all areas of the hotel and most brought their partners to hotel employee functions. I don’t know Mr. Marriott’s personal views but as an employer, he has been good to the gay community and has offered benefits to gay couples for years.

5. Gay customers themselves prefer Marriott.

Would it surprise you to learn that the hotel chain preferred by a majority of gay male consumers is Marriott? Apparently, 10s of thousands of gay men prefer to give their business to the Marriott Corporation. If we assume that these consumers are acting in their own best political interests, these gay travelers are demonstrating their support for and their approval of the Marriott organization.

Given these 5 different kinds of affirmation for Marriott’s policies towards the LGBT community, why would anyone assume that Marriott is anti-gay?

And, if Marriott is supportive of LGBT rights, as evidenced by these endorsements, wouldn’t a boycott of Marriott punish an organization in spite of its support for LBGT rights?

Please share your thoughts in the Comments, clicking on the link below. …

[p.s. 12.8.08 Check out Marc Gunther’s post on Marriott, here , and Scatterplot’s somewhat related ideas about why a boycott doesn’t make sense, here. )

{ 1 comment }

Paul October 27, 2009 at 12:00 am

Consider this argument.

Marriott – significant Mormon shareholder owned, board of directors, and executive management. Money to Marriott, goes to Mormons, Mormons who tithe. While the company may treat gay and lesbians fairly, it may be more a reflection of their competitors human resource policies than their own good will. It would be very difficult to attract gay/lesbian talent or customers if they didn’t match other hoteliers’ inclusive policies.

It is true that Marriott has not directly engaged in Prop 8 or other political fights against gay and lesbian equality. Their profits flowed to people who used that to fund a direct attack on my civil rights.

Significant Marriott profits go to salaries and shareholder wealth of Mormons who tithe to a church that spent millions taking away my rights. If you’re not familiar with Mormon’s great wealth and success in businesses such as Marriott, you might want to research it.

A boycott against Marriott is sound and I will follow it as well as declining to do business with other companies where large profits make their way to the Mormon church.

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