The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Ald. Tunney Asks If City Should Set Aside Contracts for Gay Owned Businesses

By Camela Furry in News on Jul 30, 2009 3:20PM

Alderman Tom Tunney, Photo from the 44th ward website
During a Budget Committee hearing called to extend an ordinance that sets aside city contracts for businesses owned by minorities and women, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) reopened the question of whether the city should establish a similar ordinance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgenered residents. Tunney asked Corporation Counsel Mara Georges if any other municipality has a “category” that defines “LGBT as a qualified minority”, reported the Sun-Times. Georges responded that she didn’t know of any in the U.S. but was open to talk further about it.

Later Tunney acknowledged that there isn’t a consensus in the LGBT community whether to pursue a special category as a qualified minority. He told the Sun-Times:

“We know we’ve been disadvantaged. But, there are programs for women already. And the perception is this would only enhance gay white males. That’s why there’s not consensus within our community.”

But, Tunney said, “All I’m asking is just to explore this as we move forward making it an even better ordinance…We’re looking to do more research in the community about quantifiable discrimination in terms of access to credit and financial issues…to see whether or not, at a future date, categories within the LGBT community might be eligible.”

Back in July 2003 when Tunney first raised the issue, Mayor Daley said he was open to the idea if there were LGBT business owners who could provide proof they were denied city contracts because of discrimination.

How someone proves they are gay in order to qualify as an LGBT owned business is something Tunney had a hard time explaining. He told the Sun-Times, “Qualified domestic partners. That could be one factor”. He said work is still needed on the definition. [Sun-Times, Tribune]