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.