Starwood urges Georgia governor to oppose religious-freedom bill

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Starwood Hotels & Resorts has sent a letter to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, urging him not to sign a religious-freedom bill that may allow business owners to discriminate against gay and lesbian people.

House Bill 757 says, "Government shall not take any adverse action against a person or faith-based organization wholly or partially on the basis that such person or faith-based organization believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief regarding lawful marriage between two people, including the belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a union."

The bill has passed Georgia's House and Senate.

Starwood general counsel Kenneth Siegel said in a March 9 letter, “Although this bill purports to protect religious freedom, in its current form it effectively legalizes discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, is antithetical to Starwood’s core values of diversity and inclusiveness, and will have significant adverse effects on Starwood’s business in the state of Georgia."

Siegel added, “Event planners and even corporations will react hostilely to this discriminatory legislation and will choose to take their business to locations outside of the state of Georgia."

Starwood has 17 hotels in Georgia.

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