Tourism official steps down in protest of same sex partners benefits

The man who received commendations from President Bush and the Director of the Secret Service, Edwin Leslie, has stepped down from his position on the Arizona Tourism Advisory Council in protest of Governor Brewer’s action against same-sex benefits for state employees.

Leslie was appointed to the Arizona Tourism Advisory Council by Brewer in 2010. On Tuesday, Leslie, announced his resignation in a letter to the Governor.

Leslie objects to Brewer’s decision to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal court ruling that allowed state-employed workers to keep same-sex partners on their benefits. The lower court found that the part of a 2009 measure, that prevented benefits, such as health insurance, from being shared by such couples, was unconstitutional.

Leslie wrote that governor’s decision is “in direct conflict with your reiteration that all Americans are entitled to the same inalienable rights.”

“The LGBT community, of which I am a proud part, deserves all of the same rights, privileges and liberties as every American, be it in domestic partner benefits, adoption, marriage or any other rights that are so freely enjoyed by every other person in the U.S.,” wrote Leslie. “It is my hope that one day the state of Arizona leads the nation in extending benefits to LGBT families, allowing same sex marriage and adoption, and show that everyone is welcome in Arizona.”

Leslie believes that the Governor’s action will damage tourism.

Leslie is an expert in hospitality industry. 

Leslie began his career in the hospitality industry in 1984 with Houston, Texas-based Southwest Inns. He served as General Manager of a number of Southwest Inns properties located in southeast Texas. While with the company, Mr. Leslie received Holiday Inn’s highest honor, the Torchbearer Award, for outstanding hotel customer service and operations. Mr. Leslie left Southwest Inns to join Hilton Hotels as an operations manager, and later joined Westmont Hospitality Group based in Houston, as Special Projects Manager. Mr. Leslie worked with the Director of Operations overseeing the management of 52 hotels located throughout the United States.