Marriott, American Airlines step up for gay rights in Arizona

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The controversial anti-gay “refuse service” bill in Arizona has attracted the attention of major travel companies, and they are expressing strong opposition to the bill.

Marriott, American Airlines, Delta and Southwest Airlines have called on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto a bill permitting businesses in Arizona to refuse service to gay customers on religious grounds.

In a letter that was sent to Brewer on Monday, Marriott’s director of government affairs Thomas Maloney and Arizona area vice president Steve Hart wrote:

At Marriott, we have worked hard to build an environment where every guest and employee feels welcome, safe and respected when they enter one of our hotels. Regardless of whether or not SB 1062 goes into effect, our internal policies have and will continue to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation. Still, at a fundamental level we need a state law to also reflect these values of inclusion, or our industry will be at a permanent competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis other jurisdictions.

American Airlines’ chief executive officer Doug Parker expressed similar concerns yesterday in his letter to the governor, writing:

There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far.

Marriott, American Airlines, Delta and Southwest Airlines have all been recognized for their support of their LGBT employees and customers.  Each is a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association and have consecutively received high rankings on the Human Rights Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index.

Brewer has not made any indications yet about how she plans to act. However, on Monday, Arizona’s U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, who are both republicans, called on her to veto the bill.

Troy Petenbrink is Metro Weekly's contributing writer for food and travel. He can be reached at troy@metroweekly.com.

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