Originally published on Advocate.com September 22 2011 9:35 AM ET
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has introduced federal legislation to expressly prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in housing.
The bill, known as the Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act, or HOME Act, would amend the 1968 Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, as well as amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prevent such discrimination in lending (the bill would also bar discrimination based on source of income and marital status). A House version of the bill will be introduced later today by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York.
“It’s hard to believe that in 2011, any law-abiding, tax-paying American who can pay the rent can’t live somewhere just because of who they are,” Kerry said in a statement. “Housing discrimination against LGBT Americans is wrong, but today in most states there isn’t a thing you can do about it. This legislation would end discrimination that continues to hurt people.”
In January the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced regulations to ban discrimination against LGBT people by housing owners who receive HUD financing or housing that is insured by HUD, as well as prohibit lenders from using gender identity or sexual orientation as eligibility criteria for federally backed mortgages. In addition, the regulations clarified that “eligible families” under numerous HUD programs include LGBT families.
Ian Thompson, legislative representative for the American Civil Liberties Union, said Thursday that the HOME Act “would move us a big step closer to an America where decent, affordable housing is available to all Americans. No person should be denied housing because of who they are or who they love.”
Organizations who endorse the bill include the Family Equality Council, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund. “Today, federal civil rights laws do not protect all people, and leave the door open for unscrupulous and bigoted people to deny housing choice to people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income, or marital status,” the groups wrote in an endorsement letter, along with organizations including National Council of La Raza, NAACP, and ACLU.
Per a news release issued through Kerry’s press office, the bill would do the following:
· Amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit housing discrimination and intimidation on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or source of income.
· Amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in access to credit.
· Outlaw housing discrimination both before and after a housing unit is acquired.
· Strengthen antidiscrimination protections for handicapped individuals and LGBT parents with custody of a child.
· Provide the attorney general with appropriate pre-litigation investigative power to enforce the law.
The Senate bill’s original cosponsors are Democratic senators Tom Harkin of Iowa, Patty Murray of Washington, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Chris Coons of Delaware, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Dan Inouye of Hawaii.