In a rare victory, a resource page for LGBTQ small business owners was reinstated to the White House’s website after lawmakers demanded to know why it was erased.
The webpage was removed just days after Donald Trump took office in January 2017, as originally reported by the Washington Blade. New York Democrats Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez and Rep. Yvette Clarke sent a letter to the Small Business Administration on May 9 asking why the page was still offline 16 months later.
Last August the Congresswomen were “assured by the agency that the website was under construction with plans to reactivate the webpage in the near future,” as they claimed in the letter.
“It has now been over a year since these resources were taken down,” claimed Velazquez and Clarke, who sit on the House Committee on Small Business. “Other pages that were also under construction are already up and running. This is deeply troubling and renews our concern that this page’s removal may have been politically or ideologically motivated, rather than simply administrative.”
But as of Thursday, the resource page is up and running again.
Titled “LGBT-Owned Businesses,” the new version of the webpage declares that the SBA is “proud to support the LGBT business community.” It offers resources for business owners on inclusion and outreach, while linking to several LGBTQ chambers of commerce across the United States, including Greater Houston, North Texas, and Wisconsin.
The site also encourages small businesses to email the SBA’s outreach team to certify their companies.
Currently, there are an estimated 1.4 million LGBTQ-owned businesses in the U.S., which Clarke and Velazquez claim contribute “$1.7 trillion to the GDP.” Just 964 of those companies, however, are certified through the SBA.
Under the Obama administration, the SBA had worked to strengthen its ties to the LGBTQ community. The government bureau signed a formal pledge in 2012 to work more closely with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, which resulted in the launch of the LGBT Business Builder campaign three years later.
In 2016, the SBA honored the California-based company Equator Coffees & Teas as the first LGBTQ-owned winner of Small Business of the Year.
But even as resources for the queer business community return to the web, a number of questions remain unanswered. Velazquez and Clarke demanded to know in their letter whether the site’s removal was “politically or ideologically motivated.”
A number of White House web pages dedicated to the LGBTQ community which were removed following Trump’s inauguration remain in the dark. For instance, a statement from the State Department apologizing for the Lavender Scare of the 1960s, in which queer and trans workers were purged from government offices, was revoked.
Other webpages excised from the site include reports on the health challenges faced by queer women housed on WomensHealth.gov, as well as the removing the web portal for the Office of National AIDS Policy. Both have yet to be replaced.
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