Michigan regulators have cleared a path for a much-needed financial institution designed specifically for LGBTQ+ consumers, with doors opening potentially as soon as 2020.
The nationally operating institution will be called Superbia Credit Union and will provide services often overlooked or neglected by massive banking corporations, such as loans for covering transition-related care.
While some parts of the country prohibit discrimination in banking, it’s legal in 26 states for banks to deny someone a loan for being LGBTQ+. A study this year found that queer borrowers are 73 percent more likely to be denied a mortgage, despite being lower risk than straight borrowers. What’s more, mortgages for queer homeowners tend to be slightly higher, costing consumers thousands of dollars.
And while many institutions claim to be allies to the LGBTQ+ community, that tends to be corporate pinkwashing which hides a far more homophobic truth.
Bank of American and Chales Schwab are big donors to Donald Trump. In 2018, JPMorgan Chase gave $149,908 to the Republican National Committee. Bank of America gave $834,150 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the company was fined in 2013 for denying a loan to a same-sex couple. Meanwhile, officials from Bank of America helped negotiate a homophobic bill in North Carolina that blocked nondiscrimination laws from going into effect. The CEO of Citigroup defended Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro.
Superbia isn’t a bank — it’s a credit union, a type of institution that tends to be far more responsive to the needs of its community. While credit unions offer many of the same services as banks, members are considered co-owners and can vote on leadership. Credit unions tend to reinvest profits back into the community that they serve, rather than lavishing millions on executives.
Superia plans to award 30 percent of its profits to LGBTQ+ organizations. Although it hasn’t yet made a commitment regarding political donations to anti-equality politicians, it’s hard to imagine a credit union dedicated to LGBTQ+ consumers giving money to Republican causes.
The next steps for Superbia include obtaining further regulatory approval, forming a board, hiring executives, and exploring products like insurance and health care.
This isn’t the first attempt to establish a bank that queer consumers can trust. In 1988, the Dallas Gay Alliance started a credit union for the local LGBTQ+ community. And for several years, groups including Equality Washington have been working to start an Equality Credit Union in the Evergreen State.
LGBTQ+ consumers are responsible for major spending, with Witek Communications estimating their combined buying power was just shy of $1 trillion in 2017.