The nation's largest anti-Muslim hate group is scheduled to hold its annual conference at a Marriott International property four miles from the White House, despite pressure from advocacy groups that have been calling on the hotelier to cancel the event.
ACT for America, which has promoted its ties to the Trump administration, is hosting a two-day conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va., on Oct. 2 and 3. The group's website says the event will be "the nation's largest national security-focused grass-roots gathering."
It was not clear how many people would attend, but ACT for America — which is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — says it has 750,000 members.
Marriott said it will not cancel the conference.
"We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and function space," a Marriott spokesman said in an email. "Acceptance of business does not indicate support or endorsement of any group or individual."
Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group, says it sent a letter to Arne M. Sorenson, Marriott's president and chief executive, on Sept. 11 asking him to reconsider the company's stance on the event.
"Marriott clearly and proudly states on its website that 'diversity and inclusion is fundamental to our core values and strategic business goals,' " the letter said. "We believe that hosting this anti-Muslim convention is antithetical to this otherwise clear commitment."
A spokesman for the group said he was disappointed that Marriott had decided to move ahead with the event.
"Given Marriott's commitment to being inclusive and diverse, we were optimistic that they would do the right thing here," said Scott Simpson, public advocacy director for Muslim Advocates. "This is very incongruous with their stance as a company."
Sorenson has been an outspoken critic of President Trump's travel ban affecting citizens from Muslim-majority countries, and has publicly criticized the president's plans to build a wall on the Mexican border.
As a company, Marriott, which is the world's largest hotel chain, has also been proactive in its stance on LGBT issues, immigration reform and other social and political issues. In 2010, the company called off plans to host a conference organized by the white nationalist group American Renaissance at the Washington Dulles Marriott. (A number of other hotels, including the Westin Washington Dulles Hotel and the Four Points by Sheraton Manassas Battlefield did the same.)
Marriott's decision to host the event comes after other corporations have publicly refused to do business with white supremacists and hate groups. The home-sharing service Airbnb recently refused to accommodate people who were attending last month's white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Shortly after, GoDaddy, CloudFlare and Google said they would sever ties with the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer.
According to ACT for America's website, its two-day conference and legislative briefing will include talks from national security experts and meetings with lawmakers. Former Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson will give the keynote address at the event's awards luncheon.
"ACT for America's mission is clear," the site said. "Political correctness and cowardness has no place in America. We proudly stand strong on our Judeo-Christian foundation. We will not be silenced. We will not fail."
The Crystal Gateway Marriott's website showed that it was hosting the event. Act for America's site says the hotel is offering a discounted nightly rate of $250 for attendees from Oct. 1 to Oct. 5.
ACT for America's annual conference, which it calls ACTCON 2017, had previously been held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Northwest Washington in 2013, 2015 and 2016. A spokeswoman at the hotel said she was not sure why ACT for America had moved its event this year. She declined to give her name or title.
"We have enjoyed a great working relationship with them, and my suspicion is that their move to another hotel was a space issue," she said. "There was no controversy around hosting them, and we would welcome them back, just as we would any group."
ACT for America, founded a decade ago by Brigitte Gabriel, a Lebanese-born Christian, has forged close ties with the Trump administration.
"ACT for America has a direct line to Donald Trump," Gabriel wrote in a fundraising email last year. The group, she added, "has played a fundamental role in shaping his views and suggested policies with respect to radical Islam."
The group was also behind anti-Muslim demonstrations across the country this summer that attracted white supremacist groups.
"I don't believe in having Muslims in the United States," Francisco Rivera, of the white supremacist group Vanguard America, said at one of the demonstrations. "Their culture is incompatible with ours."