The Trump administration has restored a page providing information and resources for LGBT-owned businesses on the Small Business Administration’s website after outcry from LGBTQ advocates and congressional allies.
The page in question, which had been active during the Obama administration, was taken down with several other web pages in January 2017 as the Trump administration began revising parts of various agency websites to better reflect the administration’s priorities. Officials within the administration insisted that most of the deleted web pages — which covered a number of federal agencies or departments — would eventually be restored or replaced once they were reviewed and amended.
However, as late as earlier this week, the LGBT-owned business page remained dormant. As a result, a pair of New York Congresswomen, Yvette Clarke and Nydia Velázquez, the ranking member on the House Small Business Committee, wrote a letter to SBA Administrator Linda McMahon questioning why the page had not been restored, even though SBA staff had promised it would when Democrats on the House Small Business Committee raised the issue with them in August 2017.
“It has now been over a year since these resources were taken down,” Clarke and Velázquez wrote in the letter to McMahon, dated May 9. “Other pages that were also under construction are already up and running. This is deeply troubling and renews our concern that this page’s removal may have been politically or ideologically motivated, rather than simply administrative.”
The congresswomen also pointed to the outsized effect that the nation’s more than 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses have on the economy, and lamented the fact that their contributions were being overlooked.
“You may recall that in 2016, the SBA made history by selecting an NGLCC-certified LGBT business as the small business of the year during that year’s National Small Business Week,” they wrote. “This milestone highlighted SBA’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs of all types, no matter their location or background. Sadly, removal of these webpages suggests the agency may be reversing this progress.”
On Wednesday, the page was finally restored, prompting LGBTQ advocates to declare victory.
The co-founders of the NGLCC, President Justin Nelson and CEO Chance Mitchell, released a statement praising the move, which came after the congresswomen’s letter was sent to the SBA and after NGLCC leaders met with McMahon in person to discuss their concerns.
“Our work with the Small Business Administration over the last decade has ensured more LGBT business owners than ever before have access to the information, certifications, and resources available to them that allow their businesses to compete for their piece of the American Dream,” Nelson and Mitchell said in their statement.
“Clearly, [McMahon] and the SBA recognize that LGBT business owners across the nation bring countless innovations, contribute over $1.7 trillion to the GDP, and create tens of thousands of jobs where they live,” the letter reads. “America’s LGBT entrepreneurs, and in fact every diverse community, should be given unfettered access to opportunities to succeed at every level of government and in every marketplace.”
Clarke and Velázquez issued a statement celebrating the victory but also warning that they’d continue to investigate why the SBA took so long to restore the website with the LGBT-related resources — and whether other figures within the Trump administration had influenced SBA’s decision-making process.
“We’re pleased Administrator McMahon has taken our concerns seriously and reinstated these resources. It is important that all federal agencies are inclusive and work proactively to serve the needs of Americans,” the congresswomen wrote.
“We also continue to be concerned as to why these resources were originally removed and why they took so long to be restored,” the added. “It remains our hope that the SBA will answer our letter, provide information and include any previous communication between SBA staff and other Administration officials on this topic.”
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