The Equality Bill – which aims to expand the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 to include discrimination against sexual orientation, sex, and gender identity, was first introduced in 2015. Unfortunately, it never left committee.
However, it returns to Congress this week with some massive corporate support – over 161 companies are supporting the Human Rights Campaign coalition. This start list includes Apple, American Airlines, KPMG, Deloitte, IKEA, and Pepsico – and many more.
The news that it will hit the currently Democratically-held House of Representatives may spell some hope for the fifty percent of the LGBT community that lives in one of the 30 states that do not provide LGBT protections. If passed, the bill would provide protections in employment, education, housing, public accommodations, jury service, and federal funding.
The Equality Act also amends the Equal Opportunity Credit Act to ensure equal and fair access to credit. Going forward, the act is likely to enjoy broad support in the House, but will certainly face scrutiny and resistance in the conservatively-held Senate. However, the over 3.7 trillion dollars in revenue represented in the Business Coalition for Equality are a big voice that covers over half the country. No representative should ignore or treat that lightly.
Although federal protections are most needed, and the federal government has lagged behind – it’s important to remember the real estate industry (NAR members (association executives, brokers, and Realtors alike) and real estate tech companies) have come out in droves to support this legislation, continuing it’s great track record on LGBT equality.
Nearly a decade ago made it against the Code of Ethics (see Article 10) for any Realtor to discriminate against an LGBT person. NAR has long been on the side of LGBT equality, and as a fun piece of trivia: when it came to the historic marriage ruling – the lead plaintiff, Obergefell was a Realtor.
A lack of legal LGBTQIA+ protections is a continued vulnerability in the fight for fair and equal access to housing, and even before this bill was reintroduced, 2019 was promising to be a big year with the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) and NAR making a renewed push to end housing discrimination for LGBT populations. Things are happening!
What can you do? Write your senator or congressional representative, sign up to help push the law into action and stay in the know.