Feds Take Action Against LGBT Housing Discrimination

BY Neal Broverman

January 28 2012 8:50 PM ET

Speaking Saturday at the Creating Change conference in Baltimore, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan promised new rules against LGBT discrimination in housing and lending.

The rule prohibits owners and operators of HUD-assisted or HUD-insured housing from inquiring about an applicant or occupant's sexual orientation or gender identity. Also, lenders offering Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages cannot discriminate against LGBT people  in their borrowing practices, and cannot ask about their orientation or gender identity. The narrow definition of "family," sometimes used as a way to discriminate against gay or transgender people in HUD voucher programs, will now not take into account marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The new rules will be published next week and go into effect 30 days after.

"Enacting a rule is not enough. Training and education are essential to ensuring rules are followed in communities across the country," Donovan said at the conference. "And so, HUD and its fair housing partners will work to provide guidance and training on the substance of this rule – and the impact it will have for both how we administer HUD programs and also how we enforce our nation’s fair housing laws more broadly."

HUD's new rules, which piggyback on already-existing LGBT friendly
practices, were heralded by the HRC, the National Center for Lesbian
Rights, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Donovan also spent much time in his speech reminding attendees of President Obama's accomplishments, including ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," enacting the Matthew Shepard hate crimes law, expanding hospital visitation rights, and banning transgender discrimination in federal employment.
 

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