After participating in Pride Month, Marriott will now host Tampa conference for anti-LGBTQ group

Conservative group Moms For Liberty will be hosting their national summit at Tampa's Water Street Marriott in downtown later this month.

click to enlarge Photo from Marriott International's Facebook page posted on June 1, the first day of Pride month. - Photo via Marriott International
Photo via Marriott International
Photo from Marriott International's Facebook page posted on June 1, the first day of Pride month.
Despite Marriott marketing to the LGBTQ+ community and being an active Pride Month participant, its Tampa Water Street hotel will turn the page in July and welcome an event organized by a known anti-LGBTQ+ group.

Media Matters for America points out that from July 14-17, the hotel will welcome a three-day national summit for "joyful warriors" organized by Melbourne-based nonprofit, Moms For Liberty.

Claiming to advocate for "parental rights" in schools, Moms for Liberty has campaigned against books and curriculum that include subjects like gender and sexuality, including literature about LGBTQ+ rights and history. The group has also rallied against COVID-19 restrictions, plus books about discrimination and "critical race theory."

"It's just not reasonable for Marriott to pretend like it stands with the LGBTQ community during one month and then the next week take money from the people who are basically calling for our destruction," Ari Drennen, LGBTQ Program Director at Media Matters, told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.  "[Marriott] can't have their cake and eat it too when it comes to supporting LGBTQ people and benefiting from the money that LGBTQ travelers fund."

In 2014, Marriott International launched its "#LoveTravels" campaign. Four years later, the campaign pledged to donate $500,000 to "groups and individuals advocating for inclusion, equality, peace and human rights."

"It's just not reasonable for Marriott to pretend like it stands with the LGBTQ community during one month and then the next week take money from the people who are basically calling for our destruction."

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But campaign finance data from 2018 to today shows that Marriott International Inc. has also donated at least $180,000 to Florida-based conservative-leaning political action committees (PAC) and candidates.  Marriott International Inc. only donated $5,000 to left-leaning PACs in the same timeframe.

It's no secret that Florida's conservative lawmakers have weaponized those funds to help pass legislation like the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who's actually set to speak at the Moms For Liberty summit in Tampa.

Despite its political activity, Marriott earned a 100% score in 2022's annual Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy and lobbying in the country, for the ninth year in a row.

CL reached out to HRC to see if its welcoming of Moms For Liberty might affect that score—we'll update this post if we hear back.

Besides DeSantis, many of the other speakers at Moms For Liberty's Tampa Marriott summit have voiced support for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and ideology.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the author of a manifesto that denies the existence of trans people is on the bill along with former Trump administration Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who in 2017 revoked Obama-era protections of transgender students.

Passes for the convention itself are $199, and that's not including rooms at the Tampa Marriott Water Street, which are already sold-out.

According to the group's Twitter page (@Moms4Liberty), the organization has grown up to 200 chapters in 37 states, with over 95,000 members since January of 2021.

Since its beginning, the organization has often targeted trans youth. In a June 13 tweet, the organization called the increasing number of transgender youth a "transgender contagion" and encouraged parents to "fight" it. 

In March, the group's Twitter page also quoted an article claiming The Trevor Project—the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth—is "actively grooming children into a trans identity."

Spokespeople for Strategic Property Partners (SPP), which owns the hotel, told CL that SPP "does not handle operations inside the hotels," and deferred to Marriott, which has yet respond to CL's request for comment. SPP partner Jeff Vinik also owns the Tampa Bay Lightning, which hosts Pride Nights of its own.

"It's not just hypocritical. It undermines the impact of any kind of Pride campaign that [Marriott] might do," Drennen said. "How are queer people supposed to trust that? That Marriott's a safe place for us to spend our money when they're hosting the types of groups that are calling [Florida] School Board members 'pedophiles' because they think that trans people should be allowed to use the bathrooms of our genders."
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