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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 14, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 24
The credit we deserve - Sen. Murray introduces bill to bar anti-LGBT bias in lending
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The credit we deserve - Sen. Murray introduces bill to bar anti-LGBT bias in lending

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) introduced the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act (FDCA) in their respective houses of Congress on June 13.

The proposed law would amend the existing Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) to prohibit discrimination by credit providers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently there is no federal law that protects LGBT individuals from credit discrimination.

EQUAL PROTECTION
'Obtaining credit is a critical step for many looking to buy a home, go to college, or start a small business,' Murray said in a statement released June 13.

'And since equal protection under the law is a fundamental right in our country, no one should suffer discrimination when trying to secure a roof over their head or a high-quality education. I'm proud to introduce this legislation with Representative Israel to end this unfortunate practice that continues to hurt people in the LGBT community.'

'The ability to secure credit is essential to keeping our economy moving and ensuring that everyone from small business owners to middle-class families can grow and prosper,' Israel added.

'However, there are currently no federal protections in place for LGBT Americans who face discrimination when applying for credit. It's time for us to change this, and that's why I'm joining Senator Murray in introducing legislation to prohibit lenders from denying credit based on sexual orientation or gender identity.'

The ECOA currently forbids discrimination only on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, source of income, or the fact that an applicant has exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The law applies to banks, credit unions, retailers, credit-card issuers, and finance companies.

STATES LEAD THE WAY
Here in Washington state, the Anderson-Murray civil rights bill, passed in 2006, prohibits discrimination against LGBT residents in a number of areas, including credit. But adding similar provisions to federal law would allow LGBT individuals who are denied credit because of their sexual orientation or gender identity to pursue multiple avenues for redress.

Ten other states and the District of Columbia also prohibit discrimination in credit on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity. Those states are Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont. One state, New York, protects only sexual orientation.

'Securing credit is critical to some of the most important undertakings in life, yet many LGBT Americans can be denied credit simply because of who they are,' said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin.

'Credit decisions should not be based on personal characteristics unrelated to creditworthiness. FDCA will help LGBT people realize the American dream.'

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