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On June 24, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would collect data on small business loans to LGBTQ-owned businesses.
The Equal Credit and Investment in LGBTQ Business Act, or HR 1443, led by Bronx congressman Richie Torres, a gay man, passed by a margin of 252–176. Legislators managed to pass the measure just weeks after an unsuccessful attempt to get it through an expedited legislative procedure called the Suspension of the Rules, which requires two-thirds of the House to approve its adoption. On the first try on June 15 177 Republicans voted against the law, effectively blocking it… However, the latest vote count reveals that the Republican MP Lee M. Zeldin Long Island now supports the law after having previously voted against it.
Republican MPs in New York who still oppose the law on the second try included representatives from the House of Representatives. Claudia Tenney upstate New York; Eliza M. Stephanick, whose northern borough of New York is bordered by Canada; and Chris Jacobs from western New York.
According to the text of the bill, HR 1443 will amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) to prohibit credit discrimination and require LGBTQ-owned businesses to be included alongside minority-owned businesses when they are mentioned in ECOA. This would also require mentioning “sexual orientation and gender identity” after “sex” in the OECD.
Torres applauded lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for approving the bill, which was first introduced in February.
“This bill will make loans more affordable, loan laws more effective and lenders more accountable,” Torres said in a written statement following the vote. “It represents a triumph of transparency at the service of economic opportunity for everyone, no matter who you love or who you are. We have a vital stake in maintaining and strengthening these equal access to credit businesses that are at the heart of the American economy. I am proud to lead the effort to deliver results for LGBTQ small business owners as we continue to rebuild our economy. ”
Torres has worked on LGBTQ small business legislation since his time on the New York City Council. Two years ago he spearheaded a bill requires the New York City Department of Small Business Services certify businesses owned by LGBTQ people and publish a catalog of these businesses. This year, the Small Business Services Department announced that small businesses owned by queers will begin to gain access to city contracts, educational programs and other perks.
Gay Representative David Chichillin of Rhode Island, Principal Sponsor Equality Act in the lower ward, said it is a step towards eliminating LGBT bias in financial institutions.
“The Equality Group is proud to note the movement on another of our legislative priorities – the Equal Credit and Investment in LGBTQ Business Law,” Cicilline said in a written statement. “For too long, programs designed to help minority communities have left LGBTQ behind. This is starting to change after today’s House vote. I am thankful [Equality Caucus] To Co-Chair Richie Torres for his tireless efforts to move forward. I look forward to continuing to deliver results to our community in this month of pride. ”
Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell, co-founders of the Queer Business Community LGBT National Chamber of Commerce, said collecting LGBT-related data is critical to addressing unequal lending practices.
“We cannot fix what we are not tracking, so we must go through HR 1443 for America’s economy to reach its full potential,” Nelson and Mitchell said in a statement. “1.4 million American LGBT business owners add more than $ 1.7 trillion and tens of thousands of new jobs annually to the US economy, despite the barriers they face in accessing capital, contracts and more.”
Last month, legislation approved by the Financial Services Committee following the changes regarding LGBT people announced by the Financial Consumer Protection Bureau (CFPB). In March, the CFPB noted that Equal Credit Opportunity Law the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex will cover sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The change comes in response to last year’s Supreme Court ruling prohibiting discrimination in employment for LGBTQ people.
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