One Year Later: Marriage Equality Fight Shifts To Economic Equality
One year ago this week, the United States Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriages.
In Nevada, same-sex marriages had been legal since 2014. The SCOTUS decision opened the door, though, to greater marketing of same-sex marriages throughout Las Vegas, whose numerous chapels cater to thousands of tourists each year.
It sent a message of support to the LGBT community and welcomed their business. Except some business owners were not on board. It has sparked more national debate over religious freedom laws and whether or not a business can deny wedding services to same-sex couples.
At the same time, however, many in the LGBT community want to use businesses they know that support them. That’s why Dina Proto helped form the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Nevada (GLCCNV) in 2014.
It isn't the first group in Las Vegas to support gay and lesbian businesses and their allies. The Lambda Business Association, also known as the LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, was formed in 1991 and has more than 250 members.
LGBT certifications, similar to minority-owned or women-owned certifications, could increase a business' viability among certain communities, according to Dina Proto, president, GLCCNV.
“We’re looking to have the same opportunities to grow our businesses as some of our counter parts who don’t encounter as much discrimination as someone within the LGBT community does,” Proto told KNPR's State of Nevada.
Proto said there are many corporations and companies that are looking to support minority-owned businesses.
“It facilitates what they already believe as a corporate culture to be diverse and inclusive,” she said.
However, Proto was quick to point out that having a certified-LGBT business doesn't mean that business will get a contract, but it could mean that business will be considered.
Proto said one of the biggest hurdles for the GLCCNV is that many people, including members of the LGBT community, don't know it exists.
“In my case, I own a business that is focused on that LGBT community; however, many people just happen to own businesses and happen to be LGBT so they may not even be aware that it exists,” she said.
And while some chambers of commerce that are focused on national origin or ethnicity might be able verify that with a birth certificate, proving that a business owner is gay is a little different.
Proto said there a list of approved documents, including information on marriages, property ownership and notes from an acquaintance.
Dina Proto, president, Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Nevada