LGBTQ+ Homebuyers and Renters to Be Protected From Housing Discrimination
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is making a change that stems from the executive order President Joe Biden signed on his first day in office. It was announced in February 2021 that the Fair Housing Act will now cover those who experience discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. HUD is the first department to implement Biden’s Bostock order.
The Bostock v. Clayton County Case
Bostock v. Clayton County was a United States Supreme Court civil rights case that was a result of a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII covers equal employment opportunities, initially brought about in 1964 to protect the race, religion, sex, and national origin of workers. In this case, Gerald Bostock was fired by his employer after expressing interest in a gay softball league. Georgia, where Bostock was employed, was a state where there were no laws protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from employment discrimination. On 6/15/2020, the court ended up voting 6-3 that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity was, in fact, prohibited by Title VII, as it states there should be no discrimination “because of sex”. Until the Bostock v. Clayton County case was brought to court, the ability of LGBTQ+ individuals to seek protection under Title VII was in dispute, making this ruling one of the most crucial legal decisions in the U.S. regarding LGBTQ+ rights.
Damon Y. Smith, HUD’s Principal Deputy General Counsel, said, “Enforcing the Fair Housing Act to combat housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity isn’t just the right thing to do - it’s the correct reading of the law after Bostock. We are simply saying that the same discrimination that the Supreme Court has said is illegal in the workplace is also illegal in the housing market.”
Inequality in the Housing Market
The housing market is not exempt from experiencing inequalities, and fear of housing discrimination is a negative factor in LGBTQ+ homeownership rates. A study done by NAGLREP and Freddie Mac found that around 4.5% of the U.S. population is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, making up around $1 trillion of buying power. The national average of homeownership rates is 65% while it’s only around 49% for LGBTQ+ individuals. Heterosexual couples are favored over same-sex couples when looking for housing as shown in a 2019 Iowa State University study where 73% of same-sex applicants were denied a mortgage and paid slightly more in fees. The implementation of the Fair Housing Act encompassing all LGBTQ+ individuals is a bright spot in an otherwise dark side of real estate.
“This is a very big deal,” said Jake Lilien, an attorney and compliance program manager with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. “We’ve been waiting a long time for the day when someone could contact HUD and say, ‘I’ve been the victim of housing discrimination because I’m gay or because I’m trans.’”
NAGLREP and How You Can Help
NAGLREP, or the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, was established in 2007 to advocate on behalf of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community relating to housing and discrimination laws. 2,800 members of NAGLREP share an LGBTQ+ and allied REALTOR® referral network while also providing services to over 75,000 LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ homebuyers and sellers.
Not only does NAGLREP focus on the business side of the real estate industry, but they also work hard to make advocacy a large part of their mission. Awareness is the core of changing a problem, so NAGLREP decided to educate the public through events and work to encourage existing efforts in the civil rights communities, local and state REALTOR® Associations, and the overarching National Association of REALTORS® network to help support fair housing for the LGBTQ+ community. To show support, you can contact your local chapter representatives to donate or join as a member.
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