April is fair housing month. Equal rights for fair housing have always been a hot button issue. Over the last few years, the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual) community has become the focus.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Notice anything missing? The fair housing act does NOT protect homosexuals or transgender individuals from discrimination. Does that mean it is LEGAL to discriminate against the LGBT community? Maybe...
Each state, city, or local municipality can have its own ordinances. Local laws vary greatly. Some areas do offer protections while others do not. Since federal law always trumps local, it is important that the federal law is updated to reflect the views of the 21st century.
Certain organizations have already added sexual preference and gender identity as protected classes. The department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has adopted this view. This applies to housing that is financed or insured by HUD. REALTORS have also added a non-discrimination clause to their code of ethics. Article 10 reads "REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation." These views have yet to be adopted to the federal act, but efforts are being made to change that.
The Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act (HOME) was first introduced to congress in 2010, but met with opposition. It has since been reintroduced in 2011 and 2013, still without success... for now.
Growing support for gay rights have been at the forefront since 2010. There have been many polls to determine support for same sex marriage in the United States. Exact figures vary a little, but generally, gay marriage wins out with between 52-60% of the population in support. People who support LGBT rights generally are younger (under 50).
As the younger generations get older, support will continue to climb. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next five to ten years. As a REALTOR, I believe the strongest communities are diverse ones where anyone is welcome. Shelter is a basic human need and should not be denied to someone based on their sexual orientation.
For more information on fair housing, visit http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp
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