Metro Weekly

Murray, Israel introduce Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act

Congressional Democrats back measure to protect LGBT people from discrimination in credit and lending

U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash. (Credit: Office of Senator Patty Murray)

U.S. Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash. (Credit: Office of Senator Patty Murray)

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation on Wednesday to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in credit and lending.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, first enacted in 1974, is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in credit based on a person’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, martial status and age. Murray and Israel’s measure, the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act (FDCA) of 2015, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The protections for LGBT people when applying for a mortgage, credit card, student loan, or other types of credit would mirror identical protections in non-discrimination laws passed and enacted in 14 different states and the District of Columbia. New York has a law prohibiting discrimination in credit transactions based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity.

“Securing credit is an important part of our economy and helps so many Americans looking to buy a home, go to college, or start a small business,” Murray said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that someone can be denied credit, simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I am proud that my home state of Washington has these protections, but it is time to ensure all LGBT Americans are protected from this discriminatory practice.”

“We have made great strides towards achieving full equality for all LGBT Americans, but we still have a long way to go,” Israel said. “Putting in place federal protection for LGBT Americans who face discrimination when applying for credit is good for our businesses, our economy and all hardworking Americans. Since 2009, I’ve led the fight to prohibit lenders from denying credit based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and I’m proud to join my colleague Senator Murray in calling for passage of this important legislation.”

The measure has received support from several LGBT-focused organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and the National LGBTQ Action Fund, as well as the Credit Union National Association.

“In many states, protections against discrimination for LGBT Americans are a patchwork at best and nonexistent at worst, including when it comes to fair and equal access to credit,” said David Stacy, government affairs director for HRC. “No one should be denied credit based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The commitment of Senator Murray and Congressman Israel to end this injustice is the kind of leadership Americans expect and deserve in Congress.”

“Creditworthiness has nothing to do with being trans, but without clear federal protections, transgender people can still be denied credit because of who they are,” said Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE’s director of policy. “From financing higher education to a home, so much of our lives depend on accessing credit. Without access to credit, transgender and LGB Americans can be locked out of means to improving our economic well-being. Safeguards like the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act ensure no one is denied the opportunity to access these essential lending systems.”

 

 
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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com