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Three Cheers for Bill Marriott

Famous Mormon Bill Marriott, Chairman and CEO of the Marriott International hotel company, defied LDS church leaders by refusing to donate money to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign against gay marriage in California.  He has now posted a statement on the Marriott web site, in which he touts the company's long-standing diversity policy, which includes domestic partner benefits, and in which he speaks with pride about the many LGBT events that have been hosted at Marriott hotels over the years.  While it does not take as much courage for a man of Marriott's stature to oppose church leaders on a political issue (certainly, he won't be threatened with church discipline the way Andrew Callahan, rank-and-file church member from Nebraska was), it nevertheless shows that there are some Mormons who are willing to "do what is right and let the consequence follow" as they act in accordance with what their conscience tells them instead of yielding to the pressure to sacrifice their will on the altar of absolute obedience to the prophet.

Marriott's complete statement after the jump:

From Bill Marriott:

As many of you may know I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some might conclude given my family's membership in the Mormon Church that our company supported the recent ballot initiative to ban same sex marriage in California. This is simply untrue. 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.

I am personally motivated to speak now because Marriott was built on the basic principles of respect and inclusion. My father, who founded this company along with my mother, told everyone who would listen: "Take care of your employees, and they'll take care of your customers, who will come back again and again."

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.

I am very proud of all of our associates at Marriott. And I want all our associates and guests, whom we welcome into our hotels, to know that we embrace your talents and thank you for your many contributions and your business.

I'm Bill Marriott, and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.



This was nice to see, but are you sure it's not just corporate damage control due to the push to boycott of Mormon-owned businesses?


Eli: Yeah, I was wondering about that as well, however he does mention that they were one of the first corporations in the country to offer domestic partnership benefits so if that's true, it would seem that there must be at least some sincerity there.


Equality - Prop 8 has been heavily on my mind (and is the reason I formally resigned the church). Today it occurred to me to wonder if an unconscious reason behind the organized sponsorship of this proposition is that gay marriage undermines the church position that homosexuality is a) a trial by God and b) entirely sexual in nature. After all, the impulse to marry goes well beyond sex. Since homosexuality is no longer a criminal offense gay lovers can have sex without fear of legal action (I totally recognize the social issues that, unfortunately, remain). Marriage however means we're talking about a deep emotional attachment, well beyond the physical. We're talking about recognizing that this relationship shares the same urge to formalize their attachment, to make a significant commitment before the law and society - in other words to publicly take each other and no other because of the depth of their love.

This idea puts the Mormon idea of God into rather a bad light. Instead of simply giving some people a physical urge that can and should be fought (to be clear, I'm stating my understanding of the church position, not my own philosophy), God is telling those same people that they will never, on this earth, be able to enjoy a deeply fulfilling, even spiritual bond of romantic love with another person. What a cruel and terrible thing for a loving Father in Heaven to do to anyone.



As my friend Hellmut commented on a discussion board thread on this topic, "That's a good point . . . and we can't really know what motivates Marriott, can we? But either way, it's good news for us. If we assume the best then a prominent Mormon disagrees with the brethren over discrimination. If we assume the worst then the gay rights movement has the power to change the behavior of a prominent Mormon.

Either way, I will take it."


I think you may be on to something. But I am not convinced that the General Authorities think that deeply about doctrine, or believe it so deeply as to be troubled by its implications beyond its power to provide the impetus that generates more obedience. Interesting thoughts, though.


Yes... although apparently I underestimated at least some church authorities. You might be interested in this release:

From that article:

" PUBLIC AFFAIRS: A little earlier, Elder Oaks, you talked about the same standard of morality for heterosexuals and homosexuals. How would you address someone who said to you, ‘I understand it’s the same standard, but aren’t we asking a little more of someone who has same-gender attraction?’ Obviously there are heterosexual people who won’t get married, but would you accept that they at least have hope that ‘tomorrow I could meet the person of my dreams.’ There’s always the hope that that could happen at any point in their life. Someone with same-gender attraction wouldn’t necessarily have that same hope.

ELDER OAKS: There are differences, of course, but the contrast is not unique. There are people with physical disabilities that prevent them from having any hope — in some cases any actual hope and in other cases any practical hope — of marriage. The circumstance of being currently unable to marry, while tragic, is not unique.

It is sometimes said that God could not discriminate against individuals in this circumstance. But life is full of physical infirmities that some might see as discriminations — total paralysis or serious mental impairment being two that are relevant to marriage. If we believe in God and believe in His mercy and His justice, it won’t do to say that these are discriminations because God wouldn’t discriminate. We are in no condition to judge what discrimination is. We rest on our faith in God and our utmost assurance of His mercy and His love for all of His children.

ELDER WICKMAN: There’s really no question that there is an anguish associated with the inability to marry in this life. We feel for someone that has that anguish. I feel for somebody that has that anguish. But it’s not limited to someone who has same-gender attraction.

We live in a very self-absorbed age. I guess it’s naturally human to think about my own problems as somehow greater than someone else’s. I think when any one of us begins to think that way, it might be well be to look beyond ourselves. Who am I to say that I am more handicapped, or suffering more, than someone else?

I happen to have a handicapped daughter. She’s a beautiful girl. She’ll be 27 next week. Her name is Courtney. Courtney will never marry in this life, yet she looks wistfully upon those who do. She will stand at the window of my office which overlooks the Salt Lake Temple and look at the brides and their new husbands as they’re having their pictures taken. She’s at once captivated by it and saddened because Courtney understands that will not be her experience here. Courtney didn’t ask for the circumstances into which she was born in this life, any more than somebody with same-gender attraction did. So there are lots of kinds of anguish people can have, even associated with just this matter of marriage. What we look forward to, and the great promise of the gospel, is that whatever our inclinations are here, whatever our shortcomings are here, whatever the hindrances to our enjoying a fullness of joy here, we have the Lord’s assurance for every one of us that those in due course will be removed. We just need to remain faithful. "


Megan, I'd say you vastly underestimated these guys. Apart from the apples-and-oranges comparison of homosexuality to brain disorders, Wickman was a dick to exploit his daughter like that--and why wouldn't someone with what sounds like moderate mental retardation be able to get married in the first place?

LDS Truthseeker

Thanks for the info Equality. I wasn't aware of this. And good job Mr. Marriott

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