I have always been thankful for the incredible support the real estate industry has shown NAGLREP and the LGBT community. Together we have a stated goal to make housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity illegal.
Housing discrimination hurts the entire real estate industry. Late last year, Freddie Mac reported that 46 percent of LGBT renters fear discrimination if they were to embark on the homeownership journey. That fear likely keeps many on the sidelines, impacting the LGBT community’s low homeownership level, which stands at 49 percent vs. the 64 percent national mark.
But there appears to be a ray of light on the horizon. With the new 116th Congress, The Equality Act will soon be reintroduced. If passed, the bill would amend a variety of existing laws. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit and the jury system.
There are several aspects of The Equality Act that are critical to housing. Most importantly, the bill will amend the Fair Housing Act to ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected classes.
The Equality Act would also immediately amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to eliminate unfair bias against LGBTs, which can lead to low amount of offered credit, delay or even denial of accessing credit.
This Equality Act, if and when it is passed, will be obviously be huge for the LGBT community. It would also reap immediate rewards for the real estate community at large by eradicating discrimination, a major hurdle for LGBT homeownership.
Let’s face it: LGBTs face routine challenges throughout their lives. We may not be fully supported by family and friends. We may have a feeling of “not fitting in” in elementary, middle and high school, which hurts our ability to do well. Subsequently, we may not get into and thrive at the best colleges, which ultimately may deter us from getting a great job and starting a lucrative and successful career.
And, if we find a great job, we can be fired simply for being who we are. Experiences of job loss and discrimination resulting from homophobia and transphobia are real and powerful. The Equality Act would help here, too, as it includes LGBT employment protections.
Clearly what I just shared is just the tip of the iceberg in how prejudices and discrimination impact the LGBT community through their lives and affect their likelihood to be homeowners.
I welcome a time when all obstacles towards financial stability, which includes homeownership, are removed.
We appear to be getting closer. NAGLREP has had several discussions with David Stacy, the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Government Affairs director. He and HRC are driving an Equality Act awareness campaign, and he recently shared that 150 major corporations, including Realogy, have publicly supported the bill.
Stacy believes The Equality Act will be reintroduced in March, with a potential vote prior to the August recess by Congress.
NAGLREP is working with leaders of the real estate industry to help get us near—and eventually over—the finish line. We want and need your support. Real estate professionals can join HRC’s Citizen Cosponsor list that will be delivered to Congress.
The Equality Act, and what we can do to promote and support it, will be a main topic of discussion at NAGLREP’s third annual LGBT Policy Summit on April 10-11 in Washington, D.C. We will be joined by a variety of industry leaders, including the U.S.
Department of Urban and Housing Development’s Jillian Lenson, Freddie Mac’s Director of Government and Industry Relations Anthony Hutchinson, NAR’s Chief Lobbyist Shannon McGahn, Realogy’s Tanya Reu-Narvaez and RE/MAX’s Mike Reagan. We will also visit Capitol Hill to meet with our elected officials.
We are on the cusp of change and, while we know the road will likely be long and hard, it’s exciting that NAGLREP has an important role in changing our nation.