The housing market took another big step towards civil rights and equality last week when the United States Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a new rule to guarantee equal access to housing regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. HUD’s move comes on the heels of the National Assn. of Realtors’ recent vote to amend the Realtor Code of Ethics to include gay as a protected class. At the same time, the agency is conducting the first national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing.
Law experts believe LGBT who suffer discrimination may remain silent because they have little or no legal recourse in many local jurisdictions. While there is no national assessment of discrimination based on sexual orientation, a 2007 report by Michigan’s Fair Housing Centers disclosed nearly 30 percent of same-sex couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a home.
Realtors applaud HUD’s move. Sheila Bell, a Realtor in Cincinnati, believes NAR played a pivotal role in HUD’s decision. “I don’t believe in coincidence, the timing is too close,” she said. ”Empirical evidence and anecdotal proof notwithstanding, nobody can argue the supposition that there is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” Bell is president elect of the Real Estate Educators Assn. and has a 25-year track record working with civil rights in real estate.
“This is a fundamental issue of fairness,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans. With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
HUD is seeking public comment on a number of proposed areas including:
- Prohibiting lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower’s eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing. FHA’s current regulations provide that a mortgage lender’s determination of the adequacy of a borrower’s income “shall be made in a uniform manner without regard to” specified prohibited grounds. The proposed rule would add actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the prohibited grounds to ensure FHA-approved lenders do not deny or otherwise alter the terms of mortgages on the basis of irrelevant criteria.
- Clarifying that all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs. In the majority of HUD’s rental and homeownership programs the term “family” already has a broad scope, and includes a single person and families with or without children. HUD’s proposed rule clarifies that families, otherwise eligible for HUD programs, may not be excluded because one or more members of the family may be an LGBT individual, have an LGBT relationship, or be perceived to be such an individual or in such relationship.
- Prohibiting owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing, or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, the dwelling, whether renter- or owner-occupied. HUD is proposing to institute this policy in its rental assistance and homeownership programs, which include the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance programs, community development programs, and public and assisted housing programs.
Anti-gay groups chimed in with dissent, tying pedophilia with homosexuality. American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fisher responded to the HUD proposal with a litany of charges:
There are two more reasons why this is a perfectly bad idea … One, many young boys living in HUD housing are already in troubled domestic situations, many with no father presence in the home. The last thing they need is suddenly to be living next door to two males modeling a sexually abnormal lifestyle. Role models matter immensely to young boys, and they don’t need any more adults around them setting bad examples. They’ve already been exposed to enough of that.
The last thing in the world young males in troubled home settings need is to be put in a situation where there is a heightened chance they will be sexually molested by their next door neighbors. These HUD housing projects will become hunting grounds with easy prey for homosexual pedophiles.
- Homosexuals molest children at far higher rates than heterosexuals.
- Same-sex parents harm children.
- People become homosexual because they were sexually abused as children or there was a deficiency in sex-role modeling by their parents.
- Homosexuals don’t live nearly as long as heterosexuals.
- Homosexuals controlled the Nazi Party and helped to orchestrate the Holocaust.
- Hate crime laws will lead to the jailing of pastors who criticize homosexuality and the legalization of practices like bestiality and necrophilia.
- Allowing homosexuals to serve openly would damage the armed forces.
- Homosexuals are more prone to be mentally ill and to abuse drugs and alcohol. (see also here and here)
- No one is born a homosexual.
- Gay people can choose to leave homosexuality.