Alex Blaze

Housing anti-discrimination bill introduced in House

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 12, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: fair housing act, LGBT, polling, rea carey, states, task force, transgender

Good news is that this is being introduced. Let's see if, unlike ENDA, DADT repeal, and the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, this one actually gets a vote in the House:

Two House Democrats are backing a bill that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the area of housing.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, along with Michigan Congressman John Conyers, introduced the measure Thursday at a subcommittee hearing reviewing the efficacy of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

All signs point to this being the most popular piece of LGBT legislation Congress could tackle at the moment, and Rea Carey's testimony explains why it's needed:

Last year we completed a groundbreaking national study on discrimination against transgender people, working with the National Center for Transgender Equality. We found that a shocking 11 percent of transgender people have been evicted because they were transgender and 19 percent have been homeless because they are transgender.

Another study, conducted by the Michigan Fair Housing Centers in 2007, examined
rental housing and home ownership to investigate the likelihood of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation; they found 30 percent of same-sex couples were treated differently when attempting to buy or rent a home. This study not only included realtors and landlords but also home finance options with researchers deploying testers in rural areas, small cities, large cities and college towns.iv

Same-sex couples were shown less desirable properties, were quoted higher rent prices, received less favorable customer service, or encountered outright refusal to sell or rent properties. There were also circumstances during which parties suffered verbal harassment from landlords, realtors, and lenders. Several court cases and settlements mirror research finding LGBT people as aggrieved parties. For instance, a 2002 case in New York found that housing regulations negatively affected lesbian and gay tenantsv. And in 2003, our colleague organization, Lambda Legal, settled a case on the basis of anti-gay housing discrimination in Palm Beach Countyvi. The apartment complex agreed to pay $75,000 in damages and legal fees for violating the local law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and marital status. In August 2008, a Hawaii couple settled a case against the University of Hawaii for failure to provide family housing to same-sex couples.vii

Only eighteen states have laws banning LGB housing discrimination, and twelve of those states and DC ban trans housing discrimination. Even though most Americans find the idea of people not being able to rent because of their sexuality or gender identity abhorrent, states don't seem to have the courage to actually pass this legislation.

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This is excellent news, especially if it passes. Not only is it desperately needed but it's passage could help solidify support for ENDA. As always, Reps. Nadler and Conyers are at the forefront of fighting for real American equality.

I have no idea if it's going to pass, though. Considering how late in the session this is being introduced, I don't have much faith.

We've no lack of bills being introduced in the House. The problem is that, after they're introduced, they just languish.

I appreciate Nadler's and Conyers' work on this bill, but I'm holding the dems to the big three: ENDA, DADT repeal, and DOMA repeal. I'm especially concerned about ENDA, but I'll continue to demand action on DADT and DOMA as well. My wallet is shut until all three become reality. If we start to give in, the dems will start taking us for granted again.

I see a very real danger that we'll begin to lose focus and end up with a couple of side bills passed. Non-LGBT progressives, who don't really understand what we're going through, will say, "But they passed the Equal Treatment for Gay Male Federal Employees Dining at High-End Restaurants Within Fifty Miles of DC Act! You can't expect everything overnight!"