The Hyatt Regency
Crystal City Hotel
Perhaps the “Virginia is for
lovers” slogan doesn’t refer to all lovers.
Earlier this year, the Washington, D.C.-based American
Psychological Association relocated two of its governance meetings,
of about 100 attendees each, from Arlington, Va., across the
Potomac to Washington, D.C., in the midst of concerns over the
state’s Affirmation of Marriage Act, passed in 2004, which prevents
gay unions from being recognized.
In a statement, the APA’s board of
directors said the association’s Committee on Lesbian, Gay and
Bisexual Con-cerns feared that, in a medical emergency, hospitals
might refuse to honor documents executed by gay and lesbian
The move might be a harbinger of more
conflict to come: This November, a contentious amendment to the
state constitution barring gay unions will go before voters.
Executives at the Hyatt Regency Crystal
City, where the meetings were to be held, declined to comment. A
spokesperson from the Virginia Tourism Corp., based in Richmond,
said the VTC doesn’t take sides on legislative issues and added, “I
understand they’ve made this decision based on a political point of
view, but the tourism industry in Virginia is a very welcoming one
and has been welcoming people of all
persuasions for many years.”
Clinton Anderson, staff liaison of the
APA’s CLGBC office, denied the action was motivated by politics.
“There is no question that we are actively involved in support-ing
the legal benefits of civil marriages for same-sex couples,” he
said. “But this action was not taken as a way of furthering those
The APA is not the first group to pull
out of an area due to local laws, whether they affect homosexuals,
gun control or labor unions. Cincinnati, for instance, lost eight
conventions in the 1990s because of an anti-gay statute (repealed
in 2004), and last year, the Fairfax, Va.-based National Rifle
Association relocated its 2007 annual meeting from Columbus, Ohio,
to St. Louis, after Columbus passed a ban on assault weapons.
Some meeting planners consider
legislation as a factor in choosing a meeting destination. In a
June 2006 M&C survey of 348 readers, 21 percent
claimed local laws regarding guns or same-sex marriage would affect