Fair Housing Month
This month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is celebrating Fair Housing Month in honor of the 49th anniversary of the landmark Fair Housing Act of 1968.
That act protects renters and homebuyers from discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, sex, disability, or familial status.
Wait, familial status?
That refers to whether or not you have children. Apparently about 12 percent of the approximately 8,000 discrimination complaints that HUD received last year are categorized as discrimination based on familial status, which, according to HUD, often serves as “a proxy for race discrimination.”
It is illegal for a landlord or realtor to discriminate against a family for having children.
However, there are certain families that it is still completely legal to discriminate against – gay and lesbian ones. Despite nearly a half-century of valiant attempts to ensure fair housing for all, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer people can still be, completely legally, turned out into the cold.
When the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could marry, longstanding couples and singles alike celebrated the victory because it represented a step up from the obvious second-class status to which LGBTQIA folks have long been relegated.
However, this achievement also highlighted the many ways in which LGBTQIA people are still treated as less than straight people.
Despite living in a country that proclaims that all citizens are equal, it is still entirely legal to deny housing access to LGBTQIA people.
The National Association of Realtors took it upon themselves nearly seven years ago to amend their Code of Ethics to include a requirement that realtors never discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. In other words, a realtor could lose his or her license for discriminating against a gay person, while a landlord who does the same would be off scot free.
Kinda fair housing month
It’s time for HUD to catch up and use the full weight of its power to encourage legislation that will bring LGBTQ people closer to attaining equal rights.
Only then will I be able to truly tip my hat to Fair Housing Month.