A committee in the House of Representatives has advanced a bill requiring the collection of data on small business loans given to LGBTQ-owned businesses.
The LGBTQ Business Equal Credit Enforcement and Investment Act, or HR 1443, led by out gay Bronx Congressmember Ritchie Torres, would amend the Equality Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) — which bans discrimination in credit — to require that “LGBTQ-owned” businesses be included next to “minority-owned” businesses whenever mentioned in the ECOA. It would also require “sexual orientation and gender identity” to be mentioned after “sex” in the ECOA.
“In the United States, there are 1.4 million LGBTQ businesses contributing more than 1.7 trillion dollars to the American economy,” Torres said. “We have a vested interest in sustaining and strengthening these businesses with equal access to credit, which is the beating heart of the American economy.”
He added, “HR 1443 would make credit more accessible, credit laws more enforceable, and creditors more accountable. It would represent a triumph of transparency in the service of economic opportunity for all, regardless of who you are and whom you love.”
The legislation’s passage in the Financial Services Committee comes two months after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that the Equality Credit Opportunity Act’s ban on sex discrimination would be interpreted to encompass sexual orientation and gender identity. That change, which also includes discrimination based on perceived non-conformity with traditional sex- or gender-based stereotypes, came in response to the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision last year.
Torres’ bill, first introduced in February, still needs to receive a full vote in the House of Representatives.
According to the bill’s text, an LGBTQ-owned business is defined as an establishment where more than half of the ownership or control is held by one or more people that identify as LGBTQ. The text states that this bill also extends to businesses where “more than 50 percent of the net profit or loss of which accrues to 1 or more individuals self-identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.”
The bill’s co-sponsors include out LGBTQ lawmakers David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Mondaire Jones of Rockland County and Northern Westchester, and Sharice Davids of Kansas, along with several New York-based representatives including Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, and Nydia Velazquez. A previous version of the legislation was proposed in 2019 by former Representative Harley Rouda of California.
Two years ago, Torres, a former City Councilmember in the Bronx, pitched similar legislation requiring New York City’s Department of Small Business Services to certify LGBTQ-owned businesses and publish a directory of those businesses. In January, the Department of Small Business Services announced that queer-owned small enterprisess would begin receiving access to city contracts, educational programs, and other benefits.
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