On the Hill
Congressional panelsfocus on LGBTQ policies
By DeVere Kutscher
On February 27, 2018, StartOut held its first Congressional Summit on LGBTQ Entrepreneurship on Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC.
Founded in 2009, StartOut is “an LGBTQ non-profit organization, created to promote LGBTQ equality and combat discrimination in the business world.” With six city chapters (Austin, Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York and San Francisco) and boasting 15,000 members nationwide, StartOut has positioned itself as a champion for America’s
LGBTQ entrepreneurial community. The organization hopes to “expand its reach online to ensure that every LGBTQ entrepreneur has a supportive environment to thrive in their industry and career.” The summit was created by StartOut in collaboration with their sponsors and LGBT Equality Caucus. It consisted of three panels and remarks from congressman Jared Polis (D-Colorado) and Mark Takano (D-California).
The first panel focused on LGBTQ Entrepreneur Success Stories, and was moderated by Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at-large for The Atlantic, featuring three accomplished entrepreneurs in the fields of finance and technology.
The second panel addressed LGBTQ Rights Legislation & Policy, specifically the current concerns about eroding protections for LGBTQ people in America today, and how Congress is addressing the issue via legislation at the federal level. Speakers included Jennifer Brown, a diversity and inclusion expert, Sam McClure, SVP at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), and Eve Lieberman, Chief of Staff to Rep. Jared Polis, a progressive and openly-gay member of congress, and David Stacy, who heads the Human Rights Campaign federal policy team.
The third and final panel dealt with the economic cost of discrimination, and featured Vivienne Ming, theoretical neuroscientist, technologist, entrepreneur and author, as well as Christopher Wood, co-founder of the LGBTQ Technology Partnership & Institute.
The summit was the first of its kind, convening LGBTQ entrepreneurs, advocates, public servants and business leaders at the seat of political power. At this time of uncertainty and opportunity for our country and the LGBTQ community in particular, it is more important than ever for our community to recognize that economic power and political engagement are inextricably bound. We must be present, visible and engaged with our nation’s legislators to protect the rights we’ve fought so hard to gain, and ensure that we are recognized as the American innovators and job creators that we are. For more information about the startout community, visit startout.org.
Jared Polis (D-Colorado) speaks at the first congressional summit on LGBTQ Entrepreneurship.