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A Sign of Poor Hospitality

Jim Burroway

August 6th, 2006

The CEO of a resort hotel operating company thinks it’s okay to discriminate against gays in housing. In fact, he’s hopping mad that Orlando no longer does so.

Orange County, Florida passed a fair-housing ordinance to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination, and this led one of Mayor Rich Crotty’s prominent supporters, Tom Hutchinson, CEO of CNL Hotels & Resorts Inc., to stomp out of Crotty’s re-election campaign:

Hutchison’s e-mail to Crotty argued that the mayor’s recent “position (actually lack thereof)” of “favoring the absolutely ridiculous vote on legal protection for equal housing for gays” prodded him to “withdraw my name from any further association” with the campaign. “I am not interested in supporting candidates with seemingly zero Christian biblical principals [sic --BTB Ed.] on the issues regarding the alternative gay lifestyle,” it concluded.

A spokeswoman for CNL tried to clear up the mess by releasing a statement saying the CEO’s comments were a personal statement and did not reflect the views of the company. Hutchinson then issued his own statement:

I do not believe in discrimination of any kind, for any reason — period,” it said. “I am thankful that this is a community that embraces the individual views of all its citizens.”

Hutchison’s written statement to the Orlando Sentinel said he never intended to offend anyone and regrets “the way the exchange was handled.” He could not be reached for further comment.

So which is it? Does Hutchinson support discrimination, or is he against it? Or was he for it before he was against it?

And when it comes to extending hospitality toward his hotel’s many gay and lesbian guests, does Hutchinson offer similar self-contradictory statements?

So here’s the question. Does the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa treat all of its guests fairly? What about the Capital Hilton in D.C., or the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, or the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui? Or any of these other fine establishments?

And since the CEO of these hotels has thrown his hissy fit over gays buying and renting homes, should we really be renting rooms from him?

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