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Women & Why The Equal Credit Opportunity Act Matters?

It is hard to imagine that in 1969, the year I was born, women were not allowed to have a credit card. This changed in 1974 with one of the most important pieces of legislation, the ECOA, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. In the mortgage industry and home buying process, we apply ECOA every single day when making mortgage loan decisions. We cannot discriminate based on factors such as sex, marital status, race, religion, national origin, or age.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and I differ on topics politically but the one area she was influential on was Women’s equality. She did not solely write the ECOA Act but believed it was an important part of not only women’s rights but also gender equality. The proof of this perspective is when she served as the Director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Can you imagine being a mother — you bear a child yet die during childbirth? The husband and father of your child applied for Social Security death benefits. But because the Social Security Administration only considered women as primary caregivers, he was denied benefits. This was the case in 1975 when Stephen Wiesenfeld, a widowed father left to care for his child, aimed to collect survivor death benefits. Ginsburg represented Wiesenfeld, and the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, finding that gender-based distinction in the Social Security Act was unconstitutional.

The significance of this ruling as it relates to housing and credit is important because any type of government-related benefits, such as FHA (Federal Housing Administration) mortgage loans or VA (Veterans Administration) mortgage loans cannot be gender-based.

For more information on loan programs, including grant programs reach out to our team, stacylynn@pnlending.com, or attend our virtual homebuyers class the first Thursday of every month.

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