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Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson blasts North Carolina over HB 2

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson blasts North Carolina over HB 2

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson

Anne Sorenson, the CEO of hotel giant Marriott International, has reaffirmed his opposition to North Carolina’s HB 2 legislation.

The legislation, which was proposed and passed within a matter of hours by North Carolina’s house and senate on 23 March, and then signed the same day by governor Pat McCrory, has prompted a storm of criticism.

Last week, over 120 business leaders – including Sorenson – signed a letter asking McCrory to repeal HB 2 when the next North Carolina legislative session commences on 25 April.

On Monday, Sorenson penned an op-ed for CNBC expanding on his views. He said that deciding whether to sign the letter was ‘an easy call.

‘[For Marriott and for me] … The law does not reflect our values or a basic principle that helps drive new jobs and economic growth in North Carolina and beyond: Everyone deserves to be welcome. We are disappointed with the unusual speed that was given to passing and signing this legislation into law, undoubtedly an attempt to minimize public outcry.

‘Undeterred, I’m pleased to see that we are aligned with civil rights advocates, as well as most of the state’s top employers and job creators in calling for HB2 to be repealed.

HB 2 prohibits any region in North Carolina from passing anti-LGBT discrimination protections if they conflict with faith beliefs. Sorenson – was passed.

He went on to criticize the ‘haste’ with which HB 2 – which prohibits regions in the state from passing anti-LGBT discrimination protections if they conflict with faith beliefs – was passed.

‘We have seen this happen elsewhere, where haste and political expediency produce laws that ultimately diminish a state’s reputation along with its appeal for tourism, job creation and economic activity. I hope more state leaders will learn from these missteps.’

He pointed to the Governors of Georgia and Virginia, who he said had worked with business to fully explore the ‘economic, legal and moral concerns’ of religious freedom bills.

‘At Marriott, we are dedicated to ensuring every guest and all of our associates are valued, welcomed and protected from discrimination whenever they enter our doors. However, we also believe they deserve equal respect and safeguards from discrimination in the communities where they live and raise their families.

‘To be competitive in the world today, America needs everyone’s skills. Including LGBT people in that effort is not simply the right thing to do, it’s also essential for business.’

This is not the first time that Sorenson has spoken out in support of LGBTI issues. He was a participant in the recent Pride & Prejudice conference, which explored the business case for advancing LGBTI rights and last year spoke out against similar religious freedom legislation in Indiana.

Marriott operates 4,300 resorts and hotels in 83 countries – boasting over 750,000 rooms worldwide. It recently announced it intended to buy Starwood Hotels (owners of W hotels and Regus resorts) to add to its portfolio further. Its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015 were $3.7billion.