A private home seller, James Prater, has crossed the line in advertising his home for sale in Michigan.
He included a homemade sign reading “Terms: No Foreigners, Iraq Vet,” to accompany his for sale sign which resides in his front lawn.
Luckily realtors more familiar with the terms of the Fair Housing Act and less openly discriminatory reported Prater’s actions to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The state department of Civil Rights also filed a complaint over the controversial sign.
The sign is in direct violation with both state and federal laws which prohibit discrimination based on national origin. Civil Rights Director, Agustin V. Arbulu believes that if signs such as this are allowed they, “send a message to the community that such advertisements are legal and accepted.”
He does not want others to use similar language in the future.
As far as Prater’s defense goes, he claims that this is not discrimination because he has not had any offers on the house yet. Some are also citing the different rules for a private seller of property by individuals, as opposed to what would apply if Prater had a realtor.
However, regardless of the selling situation, discriminatory advertising is still illegal.
Prater’s acts are in violation of The State Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin.
Still not okay
Prater, who is a retired Sergeant in the US military and served in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, may have biases based on his personal experiences. However, this does not give him the right to alienate a major group of people from purchasing his home.
As Arbulu mentioned, there is a need to challenge this type of outright discrimination, especially in today’s political climate. These actions can not go unnoticed, or else people will start thinking that they are just another expression of their first amendment right to free speech.
What’s to come
The complaint is still being investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Development. For Prater, who is likely to be found in violation, this means possible training and fines in the future.
In addition, his sign has been removed.