NFL, Apple, Marriott, American Airlines, and more urge Arizona to drop discriminatory bill

Major corporations including Marriott, Apple, American Airlines, and National Football League (NFL), as well as the organizations National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), National Black Justice Coalition, and US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) have reached out to Arizona's political officials regarding Senate Bill 1062.

Marriott and American Airlines wrote letters, while the NFL released a statement on the matter and an Apple spokesman spoke directly with the governor.

In Marriott's own letter, signed by Arizona's Area Vice President Steve Hart and Thomas Maloney, Director of Government Affairs, the two men told Gov. Brewer, "it is exceedingly difficult for us to sell Arizona as a destination against a backdrop of negative attention suggesting certain travelers or conference attendees would not be welcome here—as a matter of law." This particular letter was sent on behalf of 85 hotels and their nearly 7,000 employees in the state.

Both Marriott and American Airlines note Arizona's recession in recent years, and cite fear that the discriminatory would-be law has the potential to reverse any financial recoveries that have been made. As American Airlines said to the governor, "our economy thrives best when the doors of commerce are open to all."

On top of posing a threat to the state's economy, the NFL suggested in its statement that the bill stands in contrast with the sports league's policies. The statement read, "Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law."

The bill, which would allow businesses and individuals to deny others services as an "exercise of religion," has been called "blatantly discriminatory and anti-business," in a statement on a joint letter to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Black Justice Coalition, and US Business Leadership Network. The statement adds that in addition to targeting already marginalized peoples, the bill will also discourage economic growth throughout the state: "The bill will harm the state economy by discouraging new businesses to launch or expand in Arizona and by shrinking a well-qualified, competitive and diverse workforce."

In the letter, the groups write:

At a time when states across the nation are voting in favor of ensuring rights for all of their citizens, rather than passing harmful and discriminatory bills to further marginalize specific communities of hard-working, tax-paying Americans, we hope that you too will decide that this bill is bad for business and bad for Arizona. Signing into law this legislation will almost certainly lead to unintended consequences reaching far beyond a shop keeper's religious beliefs of whom he or she should have as customers and into disputes between managers and employees refusals to abide by company policies on religious freedom.

USHCC President and CEO Javier Palomarez explained in the letter that his group was co-signing "because we know that such blatantly discriminatory laws whether aimed at the LGBT community or at any other group – they are bad business and damaging to America's global competitiveness."

These leading corporations and organizations reflect what many on the ground know to be true as well---discrimination is bad for business and bad for society at large. To learn more about "license to discriminate" or "turn the gays away" bills around the country, check of Jeremy Hooper's post on "what they're doing and why."

 

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