REALTORS® Urge Congress to Pass LGBT Protections
This past April, thousands of REALTORS® and housing professionals gathered in our nation’s capital to advocate for the LGBT community’s right to pursue the American Dream without fear of discrimination. This determined group gathered at the third annual LGBT Housing Policy Summit – held at the Human Rights Campaign Equality Center in Washington, DC and hosted by the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP).
The primary objective of the summit was to address the recently reintroduced Equality Act, which if passed would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit and the jury system. This was no small objective since at the time of the summit it was legal in 28 states to deny housing to potential homebuyers and renters because of their sexual orientation or gender identification.
NAGLREP founder and West Palm Beach REALTOR® Jeff Berger surveyed homeownership data and discovered that housing discrimination was helping to keep LGBT homeownership rates 16% below the national average. “Housing discrimination exists, and it lowers the amount of homeownership within the LGBTQ community. This diminishes our community, our power and our voice.” said Berger.
The collective hard work and collaboration paid off, because on May 17th the Equality Act passed in the House of Representatives. If the bill continues to move forward, it will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964.“This is a monumental step for the LGBT community in our continued fight for equality,” said Berger.
NAGLREP will continue to actively promote the bill as it moves through the process. Most recently, broker/owner John Graff was invited to attend a working breakfast hosted by Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. The breakfast meeting topics encompassed LGBT home ownership topics like fair and affordable housing.
Berger shared that the National Association of REALTORs (NAR) has been a key supporter of the Equality Act since day one. Their Chief Lobbyist, Shannon McGhan was on hand at the summit and NAR continues to be vocal about the need for housing equality. NAR supports this legislation because it advances NAR’s policy supporting fair housing without discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This commitment is embodied in the NAR Code of Ethics.
NAR President John Smaby stated, “The American Dream of homeownership traverses across the spectrum of our society – including sexual orientation and gender identity – and Realtors® always have and will continue to advocate so that anyone who wants to, and is capable of purchasing a home, is able to do so.”