Mormons have been demonized as being anti-gay and even homophobic, yet Marriott International — run by one of the most prominent Mormons in the country — is trying to expand their clientele by marketing specifically to lesbians, gay, bisexuals, and transsexuals (LGBT).
Advertising “beautiful,” “welcome,” “sexy,” “comfortable,” and “stylish” accommodations, the Marriott hotel is working hard to make their company as gay-friendly as possible.
Marriott has even partnered their efforts with gay organizations, such as the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC); Human Rights Campaign; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association; the National Center for Lesbian Rights; and American Airlines’ LGBT travel.
“Marriott understands the importance of including LGBT businesses among their diverse suppliers,” Justin Nelson NGLCC co-founder and president said. “They were looking at how they could expand their spending on diversity, and it makes sense to expand it with diverse constituencies.”
Pushing to expand visitor-ship makes sense in a hotel business model yet the Marriott family is one of the most powerful Mormon families in the country.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (LDS) declined to comment to TheDC directly about Marriott catering to the LGBT community. A representative did direct TheDC to materials detailing the ways in which such a lifestyle runs contrary to the beliefs of the church.
“In at least one country where homosexual activists have won major concessions, we have even seen a church pastor threatened with prison for preaching from the pulpit that homosexual behavior is sinful,” LDS Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church explained. “Given these trends, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must take a stand on doctrine and principle. This is more than a social issue — ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach.”
During the raucous Proposition 8 (a 2008 ballot proposition to eliminate gay marriage in California) debate, chairman and CEO of Marriott International, J.W. “Bill” Marriott distanced his own views on the gay lifestyle from the company and clarified that neither he nor the company had given money to forward the ballot item.
“Our principle is backed up with a formal diversity program, which we established more than 20 years ago,” Marriott wrote on his blog. “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.”
Marriott spokes woman Felicia McLemore told TheDC that the chain is proud of its devotion diversity and fairness.
“Marriott offers accommodations to everyone equally and respectfully,” McLemore wrote in a statement. “Being a global hospitality company, we welcome all people as our customers, associates, owners and franchisees, regardless of race/ethnicity, religion, culture, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.”