Boost for LGBTQ+ Businesses in New Jersey on the Horizon

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Boost for LGBTQ+ Businesses in New Jersey

Legislation in New Jersey is in the process of formally adopting a directive from Governor Phil Murphy that will establish a certification system for LGBTQ+-owned businesses. This initiative aims to grant them access to special financing and state contracts that are typically allocated to businesses owned by minorities.

The proposed law has garnered support from both sides of the political aisle. Its main purpose is to safeguard the certification against potential revocation by future administrations, thereby granting it the legitimacy of state legislation. The certification is designed not only to benefit LGBTQ+ businesses but also companies owned by women, ethnic minorities, and veterans. Gus Penaranda from the New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce expressed the community’s anticipation: “People have been waiting, not just to be recognized by the state in which they pay taxes and hire employees and provide services and resources, but now they want to make sure that this is not going to go away anytime soon. As we all know, executive orders can be taken away.”

Penaranda noted that the number of members in his organization has surged fourfold since the governor’s executive order was put into effect.

To be eligible for this designation, businesses must be primarily owned by individuals who identify as LGBTQ+.

During the discussions, all testimonies supported the legislation. Although some Republican members raised concerns, their questions did not reflect the broader party’s recent negative sentiments toward the LGBTQ+ community.

Addressing the challenges of validating one’s status, state Assemblyman Brian Bergen raised concerns: “How would one prove this in a court of appeal where they’re being challenged? You can prove that you’re a woman with a birth certificate. You can prove you’re a veteran with the discharge papers. You can prove you’re a small business with financial statements,” he stated. “I would never want somebody who’s LGBTQIA to have to withstand this type of scrutiny, just based on somebody thinking you’re not gay … that’s wrong.”

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Proponents of the bill argue that the challenge mechanism is crucial to deter fraudulent claims of this status. It ensures that the certification process remains legitimate and is not abused.

The legislative proposal has successfully passed through the Assembly’s commerce committee with a vote of 9-2 and has been unanimously approved in a state senate committee. The bill is now awaiting final approval from both legislative bodies.

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