Guardian’s bill creating state certification process for LGBTQ-owned businesses goes to governor

Guardian’s bill creating state certification process for LGBTQ-owned businesses goes to governor

TRENTON, N.J. – At the heartfelt urging of Assemblyman Don Guardian, the Assembly voted to greenlight his bill authorizing the state to certify businesses owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals on Monday.

WATCH: Recognizing LGBTQ+ businesses is an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past says Guardian
“Last session, I was the only member of the LGBTQIA+ caucus of this Assembly. This year, we’ve doubled our membership. I am grateful to share the stage with Luanne and we are proud to represent our community in the Assembly, but to get anything done we are going to need at least 39 of our brothers and sisters to join us today,” Guardian (R-Atlantic) said. “Light up that board in green for our state’s LGBTQIA businesses.” 

The bill (A3330/S1313), which cements an LGBTQ business certification program created by Gov. Phil Murphy in May 2022 into law, passed the Assembly with 61 votes in favor.

Guardian explained that in the 1980s he carefully planned his social outings, patronizing only gay-friendly businesses or ones with a rainbow flag flying outside for fear he would be thrown out or beat up.

“Businesses tolerating that behavior were wrong then and they’d be wrong today. And today, at this moment, we in the legislature have the opportunity to right those wrongs,” he said.

Under Murphy’s current executive order, 130 businesses have been certified as LGBTQ. Additionally, the New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce has increased its membership by 300%.

“This certification is helpful for networking, for legitimacy and for standing out in a highly competitive market,” Guardian explained. 

To qualify for certification, businesses must be solely owned by an LGBTQ+ person, or at least 51% of owners in partnerships, joint ventures and corporations must identify as LGBTQ+. Certified businesses are posted in a public vendor database, which is available to all contracting authorities.

“With this bill we are allowing the LGBTQIA-owned businesses to be recognized and remain visible. It ensures that the state’s certification program continues to succeed and gives the LGBTQ community the peace of mind and security that only a state law can bring,” he said.