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Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson on Indiana law: ‘We will not stand for it’

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson on Indiana law: ‘We will not stand for it’

Earlier this week, tech figureheads Tim Cook (Apple) and Max Levchin (PayPal and Yelp) spoke out forcefully on their disapproval of Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Further companies have now waded into the debate, including the President of hotel chain Marriott International, Arne Sorensen.

In a discussion with DiversityInc, he said ‘This is just plain wrong and … and we will not stand for it … the notion that you can tell businesses that somehow they are free to discriminate is madness.

‘The discouraging thing about this is that these politicians must believe it’s in their interest to pass legislation like this, to create this politics of divisiveness.’

Sorensen said that he had been taken by surprised to hear of the bill passing.

‘I was frustrated because I didn’t realize this was happening. It snuck up on us. If we had even six hours’ notice, there would have been a letter on the governor’s desk.’

He also gave an example of how the bill is already having an effect on LGBT people with travel plans to the state.

‘After the law was signed, we had a future guest send an e-mail to the hotel (a Marriott in Indiana) saying “I’m gay. I’m set to come next week. Will I be treated fairly?” As far as I know, there was no raising the question up the corporate ladder. There was an instant response from the hotel saying “Are you kidding? Of course you are welcome here. We are in the business of welcoming everybody. Please come.”’

‘The opportunity that presents is that if we can get Indiana not just to change its views but to run for the hills quickly – hopefully we can put this kind of nonsense behind us once and for all.’

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) allows business owners to refuse service to customers if they believe that it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Indianapolis StarCommentators believe this will be used by some to refuse service to LGBT customers and those planning same-sex weddings.

Today, Gay Star News reported on a pizzeria which intends to utilize the new law to refuse providing pizzas to gay weddings.

The Human Rights Campaign yesterday launched a campaign highlighting corporations that are opposed to pro-discrimination laws. Early signatories to the campaign include American Airlines, Microsoft, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Wells Fargo and Company. Walmart has called on Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, to veto the religious freedom bill that has been passed in the state.

Yesterday, Indiana’s biggest newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, ran a front page (pictured) that boldly stated its point of view over the new Indiana law. The majority of its front page was taken up by a sign that simply read, ‘The Religious Freedom Restoration Act: Fix this now’.