Jersey Pride Chamber on Verge of Huge Win for LGBTQ Businesses in NJ

LGBTQ-owned businesses in NJ got a boost this week when the NJ Senate and Assembly both advanced bills authorizing the state to certify businesses owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals on Monday.

The legislation, which Governor Phil Murphy is expected to sign, codifies into law an executive order that puts LGBTQ-owned businesses on an equal playing field when (and to whom) tax-payer funded state contacts are awarded.

This legislation also makes it easier for LGBTQ people to identify companies that share our values. Because LGBTQ purchasing power is a powerful weapon in the battle for equality, this law would make it easier for LGBTQs (and allies) who are mindful where they spend their money.

This isn’t special treatment for gays like some haters (looking at you Assemblyman Brian Bergen) have repeatedly suggested. LGBTQ people in NJ pay taxes too  and LGBTQ businesses deserve a piece of the pie when it comes to visibility and the awarding state contracts.

To qualify, businesses must be 1) solely owned by an LGBTQ person or 2) at least 51% of owners in partnerships, joint ventures and corporations must identify as LGBTQ.

“In May of 2022, Governor Murphy proudly signed Executive Order 295 instructing the New Jersey Department of the Treasury to establish a State-backed certification program for LGBTQ+-owned business enterprises,” said Murphy spot Natalie Hamilton. “The Governor is encouraged by continued efforts to ensure the success of these enterprises by enhancing their visibility, providing them with an extra layer of authenticity in their business ventures, and demonstrating that they are welcome and vital participants in our economy.”

Astonishingly, the legislation passed both houses in Trenton with only 11 “NO” votes (out of 120 total) a tally that delighted the bill’s Assembly sponsor Don Guardian.

“Last session, I was the only member of the LGBTQIA+ caucus of this Assembly, Guardian said. “This year, we’ve doubled our membership. I am grateful to share the stage with Luanne Peterpaul and we are proud to represent our community in the Assembly, but to get anything done we are going to need at least 39 of our brothers and sisters to join us today.Light up that board in green for our state’s LGBTQIA businesses.”

And for the most part his colleagues did just that. Only 8 Assembly members voted no (see pic) an astonishing result to anyone paying attention to how GOP lawmakers usually vote on LGBTQ issues.

Guardian, a moderate Republican from Atlantic City, shared that back the 1980s social outings could be fraught with peril for LGBQ people. It was an era when you could be thrown out (or worse) for being gay or even being perceived as gay.

“Businesses tolerating that behavior were wrong then and they’d be wrong today,” Guardian said. “And today, at this moment, we in the legislature have the opportunity to right those wrongs.”

Senator Nellie Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen) chairs the Senate Commerce Committee. She’s a prime sponsor of the bill.

“Businesses owned in whole or in part by LGBTQ+ individuals located in New Jersey are a vital part of our economy and add to the rich commercial diversity that is part of our shared social identity,” said Senator Pou said. “This legislation reaffirms the significant role those businesses play, and will continue to play in the civic, social and economic future of our state.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Pou’s running mate, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly.

“Should this legislation be enacted, New Jersey would become the first state in the nation to establish a statewide Minority/Women Business Enterprise certification process for LGBTQ+ businesses under state law,” Mr. Wimberly said. “I am honored to sponsor this impactful measure for our LGBTQ+ business owners, providing them with the recognition they deserve. Codifying the rights of our LGBTQ+ business owners into law is not only vital to ensuring that LBGTQ+ businesses are proportionately represented in New Jersey, it also requires that these business owners receive equal consideration and protection under the law.”

The lobbying effort to pass this legislation was spearheaded by the New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce, an organization whose membership has nearly quadrupled since Murphy’s executive order.

Gus Penaranda is the Pride Chamber’s executive director. He noted that, if passed, NJ would be the first state in the nation to codify protections for LGBTQ businesses.

“We are grateful to Governor Murphy, Treasurer Liz Muoio, and their teams for working collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure this is codified to further protect LGBTQIA+ business owners,” Penaranda said. “We thank him for laying the groundwork for a more inclusive and equitable business environment that acknowledges and values the contributions of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

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One response to “Jersey Pride Chamber on Verge of Huge Win for LGBTQ Businesses in NJ”

  1. Its demagogic refers to those who don’t believe in the LGBTQIAWSYZ lifestyle as “haters.” With that radical crowd, tolerance goes only one way! Kudos to those who had the courage to vote NO on this discriminatory bill!

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