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Equal Credit Opportunity Act needed to end credit discrimination

Donna LoStocco

On March 9th, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued an interpretive rule clarifying that the prohibition against sex discrimination under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act means that lenders cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

This was welcome news, but it is not enough. Federal legislation is needed to remove any confusion about what is and what is not credit discrimination.

As the President and CEO of First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union, I am all too aware of the great importance of loans to help all Americans – especially low and middle income individuals and families – achieve their dreams of home ownership. Most lenders would agree with the basic premise that our industry should not stand for credit discrimination. I’d even suggest that credit discrimination harms our community’s attempts to empower the American dream and achieve a higher level of inclusivity.

Thankfully, a federal solution exists. On February 25th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill to end legal discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in housing, employment, public accommodation, credit, and jury service. The bill, known as The Equality Act, is now en route to the Senate before it can reach President Biden’s desk for his signature.

Protections from discrimination are necessary for all Americans seeking loans. These protections should be preserved into law. There’s no question these protections are good for financial services sectors. There must be clear and unquestionable guidelines and rules that don’t change from state to state or from city to city to empower the American dream for everyone. Many lenders operate across city or state lines and one set of rules for all of us helps to ensure that our entire industry is prepared to succeed.

Passing the Equality Act through the Senate would send a clear and urgent message to all lenders that credit discrimination is wrong, harmful and not aligned with lending industry goals.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey serves on the Senate Banking Committee and that’s why we look forward to his support of the Equality Act to place this commonsense and fair-minded public policy into effect to protect all Pennsylvanians, and all Americans from the discriminatory practices of a select few. This law will provide credit discrimination protections for 13 million LGBTQ Americans and will also provide protections in employment, housing, jury service and public accommodations.

For many people, nonprofit and member-owned credit unions are the pathway to affordable, accessible and inclusive banking and lending, and ultimately, the American dream. Senator Toomey can help 13 million Americans achieve their dreams – and that’s something we should all be proud of.

Donna LoStocco is President and CEO of First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union

 

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