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LGBTQ+ businesses will soon get a helpful boost in New Jersey

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New Jersey legislators are starting to codify an executive order issued by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) that allows for the certification of LGBTQ+-owned businesses. It would open up opportunities for funding and state contracts reserved for minority-owned companies.

Backers say the bipartisan bill would prevent future governors from removing the certification and also give the certification the power of state law. It would also assist businesses owned by women, people of color, and veterans.

“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,” Gus Penaranda of the New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce told legislators.

He said membership in his organization had quadrupled since Murphy issued the executive order.

Businesses would need to be wholly or majority-owned by an LGBTQ+ person to qualify for the status.

All the testimony was in favor of the bill; some Republicans pushed back with questions, but not with the general hostility toward LGBTQ+ people being generated by the GOP lately.

“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,” state Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R) said. “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.”

Supporters replied that the ability to challenge the certification came from the need to prevent business owners from fraudulently attempting to claim the benefits. Challenges can be made to the other certifications.

The bill passed the Assembly’s commerce committee on a 9-2 vote. The state senate version was passed unanimously through a committee vote. It now goes for final passage by the full chambers.

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