Update: As of 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday, the SBA's website was updated to include LGBTQ resources.
In January 2017, shortly after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, LGBTQ resources vanished from several government sites, including the Small Business Administration's. Officials at the SBA said the page was "under construction and review," adding that the missing materials would return shortly.
It's been more than a year, and that information is still absent from the SBA site, prompting two members of Congress to demand answers. Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, both New York Democrats, wrote a letter to the SBA's administrator, Linda McMahon, on Wednesday asking about the removed materials and touting the importance of America's LGBTQ-owned businesses.
"Erasing these resources from SBA's website shortchanges gay, lesbian, and transgender Americans, who happen to be among our nation's most successful small-business owners," wrote Velázquez, a ranking member of the House Small Business Committee. "As the Committee of jurisdiction, we intend to get to the bottom of how this happened and see the situation rectified, quickly."
The letter also noted that other sites that were listed as "under construction" are up and running again, and argued that the page's removal "may have been politically or ideologically motivated, rather than simply administrative."
The SBA described itself as an inclusive agency and one that was "proud to support all small businesses including the LGBT community" in an email to Inc. The government agency was created in 1953 with the goal of helping entrepreneurs, and, as of 2015, had an annual budget of $710 million, according to the SBA website.
The 964 certified LGBTQ small businesses in the U.S. contribute more than $1.1 billion to the country's economy and book an average of $2.5 million in revenue annually, the letter states. However, when considering the 1.4 million estimated LGBT-owned businesses (read: those that may not be certified), the economic contributions from this group reach nearly $2 trillion.
The lawmakers ended the letter with six questions that they asked to be answered no later than May 22. The inquiries ask about the SBA's motives in removing the content and if it will commit to engaging with LGBTQ business owners.
At the time of this posting, the information was still absent from the SBA website.