While acknowledging that he is a Mormon, Bill Marriott said that neither he, nor his company, Marriott International, contributed to the campaign to pass Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative that defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.
Gay-rights activists had called for opponents of Proposition 8 to boycott Marriott Hotels because of the LDS Church's broad financial support for the campaign. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints raised about $22 million for the initiative, which passed on Nov. 4.
Anti-Proposition 8 activists have demonstrated outside several LDS temples from Oakland and Westwood, Calif., to New York City. A Salt Lake City rally last Friday drew more than 3,000 protesters to the LDS temple here.
Now several national gay activists have proposed boycotting Utah and challenging the LDS Church's tax-exempt status.
"The main focus is going to be going after the Utah brand," John Aravosis, an influential Washington, D.C.-based blogger, told The Associated Press. "We're going to destroy the Utah brand. It is a hate state."
The group targeted the Marriott hotel chain as part of that effort.
But Bill Marriott, who has been a leader in the LDS Church in the Washington, D.C., area, defended his company's record.
For the past 20 years, Marriott International has had domestic partner benefits, and has earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index for two consecutive years, Marriott said in a statement earlier this week.
Many of the hotels have hosted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community functions and events for years.
"The Bible that I love teaches me about honesty, integrity and unconditional love for all people," Marriott said. "But beyond that, I am very careful about separating my personal faith and beliefs from how we run our business."