Lori Lightfoot, the first openly-gay mayor of Chicago, wants to allocate contract set-asides to LGBT-owned businesses. She appears to be determined to correct what she believes is a history of discrimination against LGBT-owned businesses.
Lightfoot has introduced a resolution that will provide training programs and technical assistance to LGBT business owners to improve their chance of winning city contracts. It also mandates the Procurement Services and Law Departments promote the opportunities for LGBT entrepreneurs in city procurement.
The proposal is likely to face considerable challenges. It was tried by Alderman Tom Tunney of the 44th district in 2003 but failed because of strong opposition from the gay community. Critics argued that the gay set-asides would only benefit gay white men, which is considered a privileged group.
Alderman Ray Lopez of the 15th district said Lightfoot will find it hard to get enough support for her plan. He said it will be hard to prove that someone is a member of the LGBT community without having to deal with stereotypical questions and things that LGBT people are not willing to do to prove who they are.
Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa suggested that a transgender set-aside would be easier to justify. Chicago has an existing set-aside of 26% for minorities and 6% for women.