By Mark Segal
PHILADELPHIA — The next wave in our struggle for equality might surprise you: economic equality. After all, credit is what makes the American financial system work.
Let’s dig a little further. If you’re looking for a home loan, car loan, remodeling loan or any loan, there is a possibility that you will be turned down simply because you are LGBT. The inability to build credit and get loans is one reason people can’t get out of poverty. According to The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School, 22% of the LGBT community lives in poverty.
An article from Allentown’s Morning Call summed it up well: “Researchers at Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business found that same-sex applicants for mortgages were more than 73% more likely to be denied a loan than heterosexual couples. And what’s more, same-sex couples who were approved for loans ended up paying more in interest and in fees than heterosexual couples did… And according to the Filene Report: Understanding the LGBT Opportunity in Financial Services, same-sex households are less likely than heterosexual households to own property and hold mortgages. This is at least in part due to the storied history of credit discrimination in America.”
Opening a new business in this country usually means going to a bank or credit union to get a loan. If you’re a new business attempting to do work within the LGBT community or a member of the LGBT community who needs funds, sometimes you are judged not desirable by some institutions, especially if you’re a trans person.
One of the largest organizations to give contracts to corporations is governments: local, state and federal. New York recently took the step to end its discrimination and allowed LGBT headed companies to be designated as minority-owned businesses, which makes those companies able to compete for more contracts.
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce is fighting these types of discrimination.
Here’s just a few of the people and companies they run who stand for equality: Marc Coleman, The Tactile Group; Dorothea Gamble, Trunc; Tamara Ali Bey, Creative Business Accounting; Gary Hines Consulting; Jewelee Bottoms, aesthetician; Yasmine Brown, Klean Vibez. These are some of the Black and Brown business members of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce. They know what discrimination looks like on multiple levels, and they are doing their part to help the efforts for economic equality.
Mark Segal is the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this column first appeared.