An independently owned Holiday Inn in Augusta, Maine, is offering discounts to marriage equality opponents converging on the city Sunday night for a rally supporting Question 1, a November 3 ballot initiative that could repeal the state's legislatively passed same-sex marriage law.
On the website for Stand for Marriage Maine -- the group working to repeal the same-sex marriage law Maine's legislature and governor enacted in May -- details are spelled out for the rally. In addition to the start time and the list of speakers, including Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, the following message appears: "If you need overnight accommodations, the Holiday Inn at the Civic Center has agreed to give a discount ($70 instead of the usual $109-$119) if you ask for the Maine Jeremiah Project rate when you call."
According to its website, the Maine Jeremiah Project "supports the sanctity of life, traditional family values, and religious freedom in Maine. Our intention is to contribute to the well being of Maine by encouraging prayer and action as well as by offering insights gained through study of Scripture, American history, and the needs of society. We have tried to simply state our common mission by listing the following objectives: 1. Encourage informed prayer. 2. Educate regarding Biblical principles and historical precedent. 3. Equip people to influence public policy. 4. Enlist appropriate action to influence public policies."
Ian Shaw, a front-office manager for the Holiday Inn Augusta-Civic Center, confirmed the discount is being offered, saying the idea likely originated within the hotel's sales department. Holiday Inn's corporate parent InterContinental Hotels Group released the following statement:
"The Holiday Inn Augusta-Civic Center is independently owned and operated. IHG does not dictate local hotel operating policy for such franchised properties other than to require all hotels bearing its trademarks to comply with all applicable governmental requirements.
"Through our portfolio of brands, IHG and our many franchisees welcome and host a wide variety of guests from all walks of life. Though IHG may not agree with or support the viewpoints of some guests, they are welcome as long as their activities do not violate any federal, state, or local ordinance or statute, or constitute a significant risk of potential harm to other guests or hotel employees. It is our strong policy against discrimination of any kind.
"The hotel staff have advised us that they were unaware of the nature of the group referred to as the 'Maine Jeremiah Project,' and made the reservation for a group block rate solely based on the request for rooms, which when booked in bulk, are typically offered to hotel guests at a discounted rate."