Republicans in the House of Representatives struck down a bill on June 15 that would collect 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, was pushed through a legislative procedure called Suspension of the Rules, which requires two-thirds of the House to pass and is usually reserved for non-controversial measures. However, the bill failed to secure the necessary votes, with 177 Republicans voting against the legislation. Some Republican lawmakers in New York opposing the legislation include House Representatives Lee M. Zeldin of Long Island; Claudia Tenney of upstate New York; Elise M. Stefanik, whose northern New York district borders Canada; and Chris Jacobs of western New York.
According to the bill’s text, HR 1443 would amend the Equality Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) to ban credit discrimination and require “LGBTQ-owned” businesses to 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.
Congressmember Torres believes anti-LGBTQ bias fueled the Republican’s decision to reject the bill.
“We have a vested interest in sustaining and strengthening LGBTQ small-businesses, and ensuring they have equal access to credit and small loans, so that they can operate in and uplift the American economy,” Torres said in a written statement after the vote. “Small businesses are the beating heart of the American economy. But House Republicans, despite their claims to be pro-business, continue to obstruct and reject legislation that would help small business owners because of who they are and whom they love.”
He added, “They do this during Pride Month, no less. House Democrats will not relent on our efforts to deliver important protections to LGBTQ business owners, and we will continue to fight for equal treatment under the law.”
On May 12, the legislation cleared the Financial Services Committee two months after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau declared that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act’s ban on sex discrimination would cover sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This change came in response to the Supreme Court’s decision last year outlawing LGBTQ employment discrimination.
The House’s decision barring this measure comes two years after 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. This year, the Department of Small Business Services announced that queer-owned small enterprises would begin receiving access to city contracts, educational programs, and other benefits
Although House Republicans rejected this bill, a new poll from Gallup shows everyday Republicans are finally starting to embrace marriage equality. Findings from the report reveal that more than half of Republicans support marriage equality when compared to just 30 percent in 2015 when LGBTQ marriage became the law of the land in the US.
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