An acquaintance brought to my attention the fact that NARTH’s conference this weekend is being hosted at a Marriott hotel, the Renaissance Philadelphia Airport Hotel. Marriott International, Inc., maintains a 100 rating on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, so it’s a bit disconcerting that they are playing host to a group so damaging to the LGBT community.
But my acquaintance was feeling sleuthy and decided to find out whether NARTH was aware they were utilizing such a pro-gay hotel for their very anti-gay conference this weekend. Here was the relatively anonymous email sent to NARTH’s general email (email@example.com):
To whom it may concern,
Why is NARTH hosting it’s annual convention at pro-homosexual hotel Renaissance Marriott? Marriott have consistently scored 100% on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index http://news.marriott.com/2010/10/human-rights-campaign-applauds-marriott-.html and now NARTH are supporting them financially by hosting at their hotel chain in Philly? http://www.narth.com/menus/nti.html
“Pro-homosexual.” My friend is brilliant.
Now, the next email in this thread is perhaps the most interesting. Whoever received the email at NARTH (firstname.lastname@example.org) forwarded it to David Pruden, Vice-President of Operations, with the following addition (presumably directed at Pruden):
How dare you!!!
We know this because Pruden didn’t delete it when he responded to my friend. Apparently someone at NARTH was actually (albeit perhaps humorously) upset that the organization would support a pro-gay company.
Now, let’s talk for a second about Pruden. In addition to running a private counseling practice, he runs Evergreen International, which is essentially the Mormon arm of ex-gay ministries. (Our friends over at Affirmation have a lot to say about Evergreen.) According to Pruden’s own bio page, he is also quite active in the Mormon Church’s leadership, serving as a “bishop,” which means he essentially leads (or led) his own congregation.
And before we get to Pruden’s answer about the Marriott, let’s revisit a quote of his defending George Rekers regarding the rent boy scandal:
Without judging anyone else, let me say that I do know that if being stupid or even a hypocrite eliminated someone from public involvement, almost all of us who were honest would have to live alone in a cave somewhere. I know I would.
He basically admitted in a national publication that he’s as hypocritical as George Rekers. So now you know who we’re hearing from (email@example.com). The emphasis is mine; the typos are his.
When other hotels have refused to even allow NARTH to meet in their facilities Marriott not only works with us, they protect our conference attendees from angry protesters who follow us trying to shut up NARTH and even shut down NARTH events. It was only a few years ago when we arrived at another large hotel to hold our prepaid conference the hotel staff met us at the door and actually refused to let us enter the hotel. As you might expect, it destroyerd our convention.
We moved to Marriott hotels when they assured us that this would never happen at a Marriott. And it hasn’t. Like so many other people I deal with, they may not do everything I like but they very much protect our right to be treated fairly and hold our conventions. We are grateful to them.
Did you catch that? NARTH doesn’t like the things Marriott does that HRC does like. What are those things, again?
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) has given Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) a perfect score of 100 for the fourth consecutive year on its annual Corporate Equality Index. Ratings were based on factors such as non-discrimination policies, benefits for domestic partners, appropriate and respectful advertising, and external community outreach.
So NARTH is a group claiming to offer compassion to homosexuals, and a member of its administrative leadership (who is also a religious leader) made it clear that he doesn’t like that the Marriott is respectful to the gay community.
And of course, we have to hold the Marriott accountable here too.
In the interest of full disclosure, a different Marriott (Historic Downtown Courtyard) is hosting the simultaneous Soulforce symposium, which is just fine. But if Marriott is committed to being LGBT-friendly (enough to boast it on their own webpage), then what are they doing “protecting” NARTH’s right to hold a conference, presumably on a yearly basis?
I’m not saying NARTH shouldn’t have a right to hold a conference. It’s a free country. But I think any company willing to offer them safe harbor has to take responsibility for enabling their mission, which is one of the most harmful to the LGBT community. And a Vice President of NARTH has admitted that NARTH patronizes Marriott specifically because the hotel has committed to protecting their conferences.
Is Marriott so desperate for business that they would welcome the income generated by this pseudo-science conference of bullies? They have some explaining to do.
I also think HRC ought to consider employing the “Responsible Citizenship” criterion that is part of the CEI, which allows for the deduction of points from companies who act in ways contrary to support of LGBT interests.
NARTH is evil, Marriott is culpable, and HRC has an opportunity to hold a company accountable.
Let’s all play a sad little violin that NARTH’s conferences have been interrupted before… I would feel so bad if that somehow became a result of the luggage lifting!
NARTH Position Statement
NARTH respects each client’s dignity, autonomy, and free agency…every individual has the freedom to claim a gay identity or to diminish their homosexuality and to develop their heterosexual potential. The freedom to seek therapy to change one’s sexual adaptation is considered self‐evident and inalienable.
NARTH believes in the freedom to hate yourself and hurt yourself for as long you buy into their bunk. I think the Marriott needs to make it clear that they don’t.