Rep. Ritchie Torres, a New York Democrat, said Monday he was planning to reintroduce a bill that would extend a data collection rule for financial institutions to LGBTQ-owned companies.
Torres, the first gay Afro Latino elected to Congress, told NBC News that the LGBTQ Business Equal Credit Enforcement and Investment Act will do so part of change the Equal Opportunities Act, which requires financial institutions to collect data on loan applications from minority and women-owned small businesses. Torres’ bill would also require data collection for LGBTQ-owned businesses.
Torres said he will introduce the bill on Monday and it will be part of his effort to continue the work that began when he was on New York City Council. “I partnered with the LGBT Chamber of Commerce to convince America’s largest city to introduce a certification program for LGBTQ businesses,” said Torres, referring to a recent change by New York City that made LGBTQ businesses eligible $ 25 billion in contracts and other services offered to other minority and women owned companies.
Torres said this new bill was “a natural complement to the equality law” the House passed on Thursday.
The Equal Opportunities Act protects against credit discrimination, but Torres said, “That’s more of a floor than a ceiling.” Once credit discrimination “is a thing of the past, we must ensure that LGBTQ businesses have a fair share of access to capital”. His bill “would essentially make the LGBTQ Equal Opportunities Act inclusive” by requiring financial institutions to report the levels of LGBTQ-owned companies applying for and accessing loans, he said.
The idea behind the bill is that it would help hold financial institutions accountable, he said.
“The logic here is simple: transparency will increase the incentive for the financial community to expand capital into LGBTQ businesses,” said Torres. “Wall Street loves to extol the virtues of diversity, but we ask Wall Street to put its money where its mouth is.”
He added, “Without the rigorous reporting required by my legislation, we will have no enforceable means to hold the financial system accountable for meeting the credit needs of LGBTQ businesses.”
Add LGBTQ entrepreneurs more than $ 1.7 trillion Justin Nelson, president and co-founder of the LGBT National Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.
“In order for them to be successful, LGBT entrepreneurs must have unrestricted access to capital and credit, which the data collected through this law supports,” said Nelson. “In order for our economy to thrive, all entrepreneurs from every different community at all levels of government must be involved, researched and supported as they operate in private companies.” Nelson added that Torres’ work in New York City, along with this bill, “will only help accelerate the ongoing work to fully involve LGBT companies in federal government procurement”.
The Equal Opportunities Act Thursday 224-206 passed, with three Republicans voting in favor. Rep. David Cicilline, DR.I., reintroduced the bill last week after introducing it in every congressional session since 2015. The bill passed the house last year, but it stayed in the Republican-controlled Senate. In October 2020, Biden became vowed to exist the bill in the first 100 days of his presidency.
During Thursday’s debate, Torres shared what the equality law meant to him personally. “As a Bronx kid who grew up on the projects, I was often too scared to get out of the closet, too blind to see my own worth, my own equality,” he said said. “My younger self couldn’t imagine standing on the floor of Congress as a member of Congress voting on laws that would put me on an equal footing in the eyes of the law if passed.”
Torres called the vote “an emotionally overwhelming experience”.
“In United States history, there were only just over 130 Latinx congressmen and just over 160 black congressmen, and none of them were LGBTQ or openly LGBTQ until I was sworn in,” Torres said. “It was an overwhelming experience for me to have the opportunity to vote for my own equality.”
The Equal Opportunities Act was introduced in the Senate last Tuesday, where it must get at least 60 votes to bypass a filibuster. But Torres said, “History is on our side.”
“Public opinion has moved decisively towards LGBTQ equality,” he said. “I am extremely confident that we will support the Equal Opportunities Act by two chambers and non-partisan. Whether we will have enough support to overcome the filibuster remains to be seen. But we are closer than ever to realizing the vision of equality. “
It is unclear when the Senate will vote on the Equal Opportunities Act or when House could consider Torres’ bill.