|By Mark Barna, The Gazette, Colorado
Springs, Colo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 13, 2008 - Focus on the Family and four other conservative Christian organizations are meeting Wednesday with Marriott International executives in Washington, D.C., to persuade them to remove in-room adult movies from their hotels.
Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy at Focus, said it was time for family groups to make a stand against hotel pornography.
"Pornography feeds prostitution and sexual abuse," Minnery said. "And it's especially dangerous in hotels because it can become addictive and create a sexualized climate that puts men, women and children at risk."
Marriott, which has 3,000 hotels in the U.S., was singled out because it is the largest hotel chain among the dozens of others offering adult movies, said Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, an Ohio-based group that's part of the coalition of 47 family advocacy organizations collectively known as the Arlington Group.
Roger Conner, vice president of communications of Marriott International, expects "a good meeting" but not a quick decision.
"We will discuss their issues and have a chance to explain some things about the business they might not be aware of," Conner said.
Minnery anticipates Marriott will use the meeting to talk about the complications of the franchise agreement it has with Lodgenet Interactive Corp., which provides the chain's in-room adult movies.
"But we will remind them that they need to be good corporate citizens," Minnery said. "They can do a whole lot better."
The coalition did not say what action it will take if Marriott doesn't change its policy, or whether it will target other hotel chains.
It's not clear how much Marriott customers pay each year to watch in-room adult fare; hotel owners, not Marriott, receive payment from providers for making the movies available, Conner told Cybercast News Service. Lodgenet could not be reached for comment.
According to a survey by Citizens for Community Values, 75 percent of American hotel rooms and 90 percent of Marriott suites are wired with in-room adult movies.
"They are the biggest and most egregious purveyor of pornography," Burress said of Marriott.
Paul Cambria, general counsel for the Adult Freedom Foundation, which defends the adult entertainment industry, said the Arlington Group exaggerates the danger of hotel pornography, and that adult entertainment is protected by the First Amendment.
"I think their campaign is a colossal intrusion on adults' free choice to view legal adult material," Cambria said. "It's the same as coming into your living room and turning off your channel. Hotels are the home away from home."
The Arlington Group argues that ending adult movie entertainment in hotels is not a violation of the First Amendment.
"Some of these movies fit the legal definition of obscenity," Minnery said.
Many hotel chains have stopped or have never offered adult entertainment.
One, Omni Hotel & Resorts, negotiated with Lodgenet in 1999 to provide entertainment content that excluded adult films.
"We did not feel it was appropriate to make money off those types of materials," said Caryn Kboudi, Omni vice president of corporate communications.
Customer response has been positive, she said.
"We've received thousands of appreciative letters," Kboudi said. "We have never had a complaint."
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