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Murray, Israel introduce bills to bar anti-LGBT bias in credit

Lawmakers in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate introduced legislation on Wednesday that would have the effect of barring discrimination against LGBT people in credit if signed into law.

The bill, known as the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act, was re-introduced in the U.S. House by Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The measure would amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prohibit credit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In a statement, Murray the ability to secure credit is “an important part of the economy and helps Americans looking to buy a home, go to college, or start a small business.”

“It is unacceptable that someone can be denied credit, simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Murray said. “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.”

According to the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, only 14 states and D.C. prohibit credit discrimination against LGBT people. Those states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Additionally, New York has a law prohibiting discrimination in credit transactions based on sexual orientation, but no explicit prohibition on discrimination based on gender identity.

Israel said in a statement the measure is necessary because although “we made great strides towards achieving full equality for all LGBT Americans, but we still have a long way to go.”

“Putting in place federal protection for LGBT Americans who face discriminations when applying for credit is good for our businesses, our economy and all hardworking Americans,” Israel said. “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 lawmakers introduced the bills ahead of an anticipated introduction of larger, comprehensive legislation that in addition to credit, would bar discrimination in employment, housing, federal programs, education and public accommodations. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) are expected to introduce the legislation later this spring.