Taking a Stand for People in Hospitality

This blog, as do all the blogs I write, does not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Stamats, the parent company of Meetings Today, or of Meetings Today magazine.

If you follow the news at all, you probably heard the Arizona Legislature recently passed SB 1062 that would have allowed businesses in the state to discriminate against people who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) on the basis of the business owner's or individual's religious beliefs. Supporters of the bill said it would help protect religious freedom.

There was an outcry from the hospitality community including American Airlines and Marriott Hotels; from sports (the NFL and MLB) and several others who announced their opposition to the Bill (Here's an article naming businesses opposed to SB 1062. And here's an article listing those that do not oppose SB 1062).

Tonight, I received an email from Visit Phoenix (the Phoenix DMO or CVB as we used to call them), in response to some of my social media posts in opposition to SB 1062, stating its opposition and sending copies of what they wrote to the Governor and others. Like with other issues and like most businesses, its opposition was mainly in economic terms.

As I was responding to them, Arizona's governor vetoed the bill saying (and I quote from Politico): "The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences," Brewer told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday. "After weighing all of the arguments I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago."

Are we not the 'hospitality' industry and does it not take human beings in order to have an industry such as this? I continue to look for the compassion and empathy for people from our industry. I wait for someone to talk about the impact we make other than in economic terms. Meetings do mean business and without people to attend meetings, work in facilities and feel welcomed in cities or on airplanes - we lose.

My response to Visit Phoenix, with the quote that is always on my email signature line, is as follows. It now seems more fitting than ever.

Thank you for sending the attachments and your note. Sometimes our industry is slow to act and act decisively. It is heartening to see the many hotel companies, airlines, and others - including Visit Phoenix - that have come out against this most discriminatory, hiding in 'religious clothing,' bill.

I understand Gov. Brewer is speaking now. I can't imagine she won't veto this bill [She did, noted above]. More, it is hoped she will make a stronger statement that Arizona accepts many more people than they have shown, legislatively, that they do [She didn't; see above].

The struggle many of us face is that while Visit Phoenix and other businesses in the State support the rights of many, the Legislature has shown a strange lack of compassion and acceptance of people who are "not like them" over too many years. It is difficult for clients, colleagues and I to make sense of what kind of state it is and whether to chance booking meetings far in advance not knowing what new legislation will be proposed that might be hurtful and/or harmful to those who work in, are members and customers of, and who serve our companies, associations and meetings.

The "business case" is an easy one to make and it has been made by many in the Arizona and outside business communities on this and other issues. It is my fervent wish that through our large, worldwide hospitality community we help the Arizona legislature (and others) understand the human side of the laws they consider. The Arizona road ahead is rocky; those running for governor of your state may need much more education than had been planned.



"The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings." - Albert Schweitzer

We each need to take a stand, early and often, for people and against discrimination. Coincidentally, this was sent to me by a friend today. Maybe it needs to be quoted to the AZ Legislature and a whole bunch of other people, legislatures and companies:

"If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything ... that smacks of discrimination or slander."

- - Mary McLeod Bethune

 Posted by Joan L. Eisenstodt

Follow Joan on Twitter: @joaneisenstodt

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